Mystery Manatee Rider Turns Herself In

(Courtesy: Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)

The search for a woman who illegally hitched a ride on a manatee didn't take long.

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 52, 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.

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

On Sunday, deputies 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.

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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