Cops: Woman broke law when she rode manatee

Cops: Woman broke law when she rode manatee

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It is unlawful to ride a manatee in Florida, just in case the thought ever crossed your mind.

Investigators with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said a woman violated the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act when she was observed touching and riding a manatee over the weekend at Fort Desoto Park.

The incident which happened in the waterway just north of the Gulf Pier was reported on Sunday around 1 p.m.  When deputies arrived on scene, the woman was unable to be located.

Witnesses in the area were able give deputies a description, including photos, of the suspect and where she was last seen.

Florida State Statute 379.2431(2)d (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."

A violation of this statute is a second degree misdemeanor.

No manatees are believed to have been injured. 

Deputies are asking for the public's assistance in identifying the woman.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Deputy Charlie Tita of the Environmental Lands and Marine Enforcement Unit at 727-582-6200.

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