ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — Manatees are a common sight in parts of Florida, but they are not to be harassed.
Two men just pleaded guilty to charges related to an online video that shows a man jumping on two manatees.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Orlando reports that 22-year-old Taylor Blake Martin and 22-year-old Seth Andrew Stephenson pleaded guilty Thursday to taking or harassing an endangered species. Each man faces up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials began investigating last spring after the video was posted on Facebook. The video shows one man, identified by prosecutors as Stephenson, luring two manatees to a dock on a Cocoa Beach canal with a water hose, and another man, identified as Martin, jumping off the dock, “cannonballing” an adult manatee and a calf.
Manatees are protected by both state and federal laws.