Manatee rider turns herself in

TIERRA VERDE - Just hours after deputies released photos of a woman riding atop a manatee in the waters off of Fort De Soto, Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 52, called to turn herself in.

Gutierrez admitted to the offense, and told deputies she is new to the area and did not realize it was against the law to touch or harass manatees.  

Authorities responded to reports of a woman riding a manatee in the waterway at Fort De Soto Park around 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Witnesses were able to give a description, photos of the woman in the water with a manatee, and the place she was last seen.

The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act states, "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."

Since the offense did not occur in front of a deputy, Gutierrez was not arrested, but charges will be forwarded to the State Attorney's Office for prosecution.  She faces a second-degree misdemeanor.

No manatees are believed to have been injured.

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