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Petting manatees illegal in Florida, could result in fine or jail time

NAPLES, Fla.– Manatees are considered Florida’s unofficial mascot, but if you see one at the beach don’t disturb them.

Previous coverage: Man arrested for harassing manatees in local waterways

A woman recorded a video of a massive herd of them near the Naples Pier on Tuesday morning.

Some people in the water were seen standing still, while others might have touched the sea cows.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if people didn’t know the rules or couldn’t resist reaching out and touching them,” said Jennifer Duffy.

According to FWC, anyone spotted touching a manatee could be fined up to $50 and be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail. If a state judge finds someone guilty of harassing a manatee, causing it to die, they can be fined up to $50,000 and spend up to a year in jail.

Dr. Billy Gunnels, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at FGCU said the sea of gray and black that approached Naples Beach was actually a mating herd, with a female at the forefront and 10 to 15 males swimming behind.

“Males will follow them miles upon miles. I mean sometimes more than a hundred miles, they’ll follow a female for days upon days until she’s willing to mate,” he said. 

Dr. Gunnels said this leaves the female stressed and the only thing that could make matters worse is someone harassing her. Next time a manatee or herd of manatees approaches you, he advises you to keep your distance, stay still, and wait for them to pass by.

The post Petting manatees illegal in Florida, could result in fine or jail time appeared first on NBC2 News.

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