PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – A drone video shared on See Through Canoe’s Facebook page appears to show a man harassing a manatee from a boat.
Disturbing a manatee is a state and a federal offense.
In the video, you can see a man in a red jacket using some sort of pole to touch a manatee, which appears to scare it and several others in the area.
Guy harasses a manatee, scares it, then does a high five
Guy harasses a manatee, scares it, and in turn causes the rest of the manatees to panic. Way to go man. Edit addition... This video has been given to the proper authorities and they are looking into it. There is no need to contact FWC because they have the original video already. It's great to see the level of concern most people have for these defenseless animals. Manatees often gather like this on cold days because they don't have blubber to keep them warm like many marine mammals. Manatees will sometimes leave a location because of too much human pressure, even though they need the warm water to survive. One of the leading causes of manatee deaths is cold stress. That is just one of the reasons it is important to have some respect for the manatees and not just drive right through a group of them in a big boat. After the boater startled the manatees, the large aggregation of manatees left the area they were resting in just moments before. Most of them eventually came back. . #jerk #dontbea____ #setanexample #havesomerespect #nature #animals #harass #manatees #florida #manatee #stpete #tampa #tampabay #wildlife #drone #aerialphotography Nat Geo Wild #boat Save the Manatee Club #boating #badboaterPosted by See Through Canoe on Sunday, February 23, 2020
The incident happened on the Weedon Island side of the Gandy Bridge, according to WFLA.
“After the boater startled the manatees, the large aggregation of manatees left the area they were resting in just moments before. Most of them eventually came back,” See Through Canoe officials said in its Facebook post.
According to See Through Canoe, the company shared the video with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission prior to posting it to its Facebook page.
Manatees are protected at the state and federal level by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 as well as the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978.
“It is unlawful for any person, at any time, intentionally or negligently, to annoy, molest, harass or disturb any manatee,” one of the acts states.
If convicted of violating the state law, a person could face a possible maximum fine of $500 and/or imprisonment for up to 60 days. A federal conviction is punishable by a fine up to $50,000 and/or a year in prison.
For manatee safety measures, visit the FWC website.
To report a violation to the FWC, call 888-404-FWCC. From a cellphone, you can call *FWC or 3FWC or send a text to firstname.lastname@example.org.