Woman rides manatee, arrested

A St. Petersburg woman who was seen in September riding a manatee at Fort DeSoto Park was charged today with violating a protection act for the endangered species, deputies said.
Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 53, was arrested this morning while working at Tyrone Square Mall and is charged with violation of the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, a second-degree misdemeanor, deputies said.
Gutierrez was seen by people at the park swimming near two manatees and then mounting one for a short ride on Sept. 30, deputies said.
A man who was watching snapped some pictures, which went viral when they were posted to the internet on Oct. 2.
Gutierrez turned herself in before the day was over but deputies couldn't immediately arrest her because they didn't see her riding the manatee. After an investigation, the States Attorney's Office recently issued the warrant for her arrest.
Manatees are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, the federal Marine Mammal Act and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.
It's illegal to harass, disturb or pursue sea cows, which includes feeding them.
Gutierrez told deputies she was new to the area and didn't understand the regulations protecting manatees.
She faces up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.