A woman accused of riding a manatee was arrested Nov. 24 and charged with violating the Manatee Sanctuary Act.
Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 53, had been photographed sitting on and riding a manatee in Fort De Soto Park on Sept. 30.
After her picture had been published by media sources, Gutierrez turned herself in to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office on Oct. 2. Her charges were then forwarded to the State Attorney's Office.
The State Attorney's Office issued a warrant for her arrest on Saturday, Nov. 24, and she was arrested that day at her place of employment at the Sears in Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg.
Gutierrez had claimed to be new to the area and didn't realize touching manatees was illegal at the time she turned herself in. Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies explained to her the laws protecting manatees and possible consequences.
According to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, it is unlawful for any person to intentionally or negligently disturb a manatee in any way. Violations are considered second degree misdemeanors. The animals are listed as endangered.
Beach goers who saw Gutierrez astride a manatee had summoned park rangers, who contacted deputies. By the time they arrived, Gutierrez had dropped out of sight.