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Florida woman arrested in manatee incident

Nov. 25, 2012 at 1:21 AM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Nov. 25 (UPI) -- A Florida woman is facing a misdemeanor charge after being photographed allegedly hitching a ride on a manatee while at the beach, authorities say.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 53, of St. Petersburg was arrested at work Saturday and charged with violating the state's Manatee Sanctuary Act, the Tampa Bay Times reported. She was released on $1,500 bail.

The manatee-riding incident happened Sept. 30 at the Fort De Soto Park beach and Gutierrez turned herself in to authorities in October after authorities distributed photographs taken by another beach-goer allegedly showing her straddling a manatee, the newspaper said.

Authorities have said she called the sheriff's office and admitted touching the marine mammal and later told deputies she didn't know it was illegal to do so.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office issued the misdemeanor arrest warrant, the Times said.

The maximum punishment for the infraction is a $500 fine or up to 60 days in jail.

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