Photo: Woman rides manatee, turns herself into police

Woman turned herself into deputies after her image was circulated

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Deputies in Pinellas County say a woman who rode a manatee in Fort Desoto Park turned herself in after her image was circulated.

Authorities said they were called to the park to reports of an unidentified woman riding the manatee in the waterway near the Gulf Pier at about 1 p.m. Sunday.

When deputies arrived, they were unable to locate the woman, but witnesses provided pictures showing the woman touching and riding the manatee.

The woman turned herself in late Tuesday. She told detectives that she did not know riding a manatee was against the law.

Officials said touching a manatee is a second-degree misdemeanor and violates the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.

"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," the statute reads.

Investigators said they do not believe that the manatee was injured in the incident.

Manatees are an endangered species.

Reprinted with permission from

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