Woman Rides Manatee, Turns Herself Into Police

on October 3, 2012 1:12 PM EDT

Manatee
A woman spotted riding a manatee in Florida over the weekend has turned herself into police, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. (Photo: Pinellas County Sheriff's)

A woman spotted riding a manatee in Florida over the weekend has turned herself into police, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

The woman, 52-year-old Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, was spotted riding a manatee at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the water near Gulf Pier in Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Witnesses gave authorities her description and photos of her riding the animal.

Riding a manatee is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida, thanks to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Acts, which state "It is unlawful for any person at any time, by any means, or in any manner intentionally or negligently to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb or attempt to molest, harass, or disturb any manatee."

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Gutierrez told police she was unaware that what she did was against the law. If convicted, she faces up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

"It's a wild animal. It's not something to be ridden," Susan Butler, a manatee expert with the U.S. Geological Survey in Gainesville, told the Tampa Bay Times. "I can't say that as a biologist I would ever, ever condone that, or say that (the manatee) wanted them to do that."

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