Central Florida man accused of harassing manatee calf

Facebook photos lead to charges, Florida wildlife officials say

Published On: Feb 19 2013 08:13:20 AM EST   Updated On: Feb 19 2013 08:17:23 AM EST
FORT PIERCE, Fla. -

A Central Florida man has been charged after authorities say he posted pictures of himself playing with a manatee calf.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission claims that 21-year-old Ryan William Waterman violated the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act. The law makes it illegal to injure, harm, harass, capture or attempt to capture a Florida manatee.

FWC investigators received a tip regarding pictures that Waterman had posted on Facebook. The pictures show Waterman and two young children petting a manatee calf last month in St. Lucie County. They also show Waterman lifting the calf partially out of the water. One image even shows a child sitting on top of the manatee.

Waterman was arrested Sunday and later released on $2,500. Jail records didn't list an attorney.