Man in viral video could be 'harassing' manatees, FWC says

Wildlife officials investigating man filmed at St. Johns River


VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A viral video showing a man throwing an unknown substance into the St. Johns River has prompted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation to investigate the man on manatee harassment allegations, a spokesman said.

The video, posted to Facebook on Friday by a man named Scott McCormick, shows a man hurling a liquid substance from a red bucket into the water. When the substance hits the river, animals begin splashing in the water.

The Facebook post seems to sarcastically ask, "Is it safe to swim in the water?"

The video, which was later purchased by a licensing agency, has been shared nearly 35,000 times and has been flooded with thousands of comments. The post  is embedded below.

Commenters on the post suggested that disturbed manatees caused the waves; others said it could be fish or another aquatic animal.

FWC spokesman Greg Workman said the agency is investigating the man. Wildlife officials aren't sure what the substance was, but they do believe frenzied manatees caused the ruckus in the water.

Workman said it appears the manatees were mating at the time, which could be why there was likely more than one.

News 6 showed the video to people in the area, who had mixed reactions.

"If he's throwing something that's getting them excited or startling them, then he needs to stop," said Tim Biers of DeBary.

"I get angry, absolutely angry," said Jack Bering, while watching the video.

"I've never seen manatees strike the water like that," added Alex Brunett.

News 6 went to McCormick's home to ask what was he doing in the video, but no one was home. His neighbors of his said they talked to him and that he told them he threw fresh water in the river. They didn't know if he was trying to harass them.

Workman also provided a list of tips for peacefully coexisting with sea cows without disturbing them. Those tips include not touching them, keeping noise levels down, not pursuing them and not splashing excessively. See the full list here.

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