PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla - A 53-year-old woman who went for a joyride on the back of a manatee took a ride in squad car after being arrested this morning for violating the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, a second degree misdemeanor.
Ana Gloria Gutierrez was caught on camera riding the manatee at Fort DeSoto Park in late September.
After turning herself into police after the pictures of her on the manatee went national, Gutierrez admitted she rode the manatee but told deputies she was unaware it was illegal to touch or harass manatees. Gutierrez told officers she had recently moved to the area.
According to witnesses, they yelled at Gutierrez to get off the manatee but she didn't. Those same witnesses called police but by the time officers arrived, Gutierrez was gone. She later turned herself in on October 2.
ABC Action News repeatedly tried to speak with Gutierrez at her St. Petersburg home. A man who identified himself as her brother said in Spanish that his sister was not afraid of the manatees and this wasn't a big deal.
The charges have now been forwarded to the State's Attorney's Office for prosecution.
Under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, it unlawful for any person at any time, by any means, or in any manner to intentionally or negligently annoy, molest, harass, or disturb or attempt to molest, harass, or disturb any manatee; injure or harm or attempt to injure or harm any manatee; capture or collect or attempt to capture or collect any manatee; pursue, hunt, wound, or kill or attempt to pursue, hunt, wound, or kill any manatee; or possess, literally or constructively, any manatee or any part of any manatee.
Gutierrez was released from the county jail Saturday on $1,500 bond.