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Woman Who Rode Manatee Arrested

Courtesy Pinellas County Sheriff's Office(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- A Florida woman who was caught on camera two months ago riding a manatee was arrested Saturday on a charge of violating the state’s Manatee Sanctuary Act.

A witness snapped photos of Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, now 53, mounting a manatee on Sept. 30 and alerted authorities.

Gutierrez turned herself in to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Florida shortly after authorities released pictures of her riding the marine mammal, which is protected under The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.

“[Gutierrez explained] she is new to the area and did not realize it was against the law to touch or harass manatees,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement at the time.

She was not arrested since the offense did not take place in front of a deputy; however a second-degree misdemeanor charge had been forwarded to the state attorney’s office, officials said.

An arrest warrant was issued for Gutierrez Saturday. She was taken into custody while working at a Sears store in St. Petersburg, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

In September, deputies had responded to a call at Fort De Soto Park after a witness reported a woman riding a manatee in the waterway.

Witnesses provided deputies with photographs of Gutierrez on her joy ride and a description, but they were unable to locate her until she turned herself in.

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.”

No manatees were believed to have been injured.

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