Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez manatee riding photos: Woman photographed riding a manatee surrenders

Authorities in Pinellas County announced Tuesday the surrender of the woman shown in photographs taking a joyride on a manatee, classified as an endangered species in Florida.

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 52, of St. Petersburg, turned herself in shortly after 4 p.m., Pinellas County Sheriff's officials said.

Deputies had met with Gutierrez at her home and questioned her. She admitted to riding the manatee and claimed she was new to the area and did not realize it was against the law to touch or harass manatees, investigators said.

Deputies explained the law regarding manatees and the possible penalties for violating such laws and said charges would be forwarded to the State Attorney's Office for prosecution.

However, the nature of the crime this was not an arrestable offense because it did not occur in the deputy's presence, sheriff's officials said.

The incident happened Sunday afternoon at the popular Fort DeSoto Park, authorities said.

Deputies were called to the area by reports of a woman "riding" a manatee in the waterway just north of the park's Gulf Pier. Authorities were not able to find the woman at the time. However, witnesses told deputies what happened and were able to give them pictures of the incident.

The photos show a woman wearing red shorts, a black-and-white bathing suit top and a white hat apparently mounting and riding a moving manatee.

The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act makes it a second-degree misdemeanor to intentionally "molest, harass, or disturb" any manatee.

The manatee the woman was riding was not thought to have been injured, the Sheriff's Office said.


Comments