Man Arrested for Harassing Manatee in Florida

First Posted: Feb 20, 2013 12:08 PM EST

A Florida family never imagined their trip at the Taylor Creek in Fort Pierce would turn out to be a disastrous one. Ryan Waterman, 21, has been arrested for posting photos on Facebook that clearly depict him harassing a manatee calf. The photos on the social networking site show him lifting the manatee calf out of the water and also allowing one of his children to take a ride on it.

Charges have been filed against Waterman by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators. The incident occurred last month at the Taylor Creek in Fort Pierce.

According to biologists, such an act could pose a threat to the baby calf.

A warrant for Waterman's arrest has been issued by The State Attorney's Office on the basis of Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act. According to this act, it is illegal to harm, injure, harass or make an attempt to capture a Florida manatee, reports Huffington Post

"This was a young manatee, which was likely still dependent on its mother for food and protection. Separating the two could have severe consequences for the calf," FWC manatee biologist Thomas Reinert was quoted as saying in LiveScience.

He continues to say that in the picture, the calf seemed to suffer from manatee cold-stress syndrome. This condition leads to death in severe cases. And by taking the calf out of the water, the situation probably became worse.

The fine for such an offence is $500 and 60 days imprisonment.

Reports according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggest that nearly 3,800 manatees are existing in Florida, and nearly 87 are killed every year by humans. Apart from this, boat collisions are also a factor responsible for the death of manatees. 

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