ISLAMORADA (CBSMiami) – Don’t play with the manatees, you could end up in jail. That’s what happened to a man in Islamorada when he decided to jump into the water and swim with a few of the endangered animals.
According to officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, James Roy Massengale Jr. was charged with annoying, molesting, harassing, or disturbing a manatee on Friday afternoon.
A witness told FWC officers that he spotted Massengale when he was in the water approaching two adult manatees and two calves in a creek behind the Islamorada Library around mile marker 82. Massengale reportedly told the witness, “I’m riding it!” The witness said he told him that manatees were an endangered species and it was illegal to bother them then pretended to leave the area. But still watching him, the witness say Massengale go back into the creek and re-engage with the manatees, said FWC.
An FWC officer also witnessed Massengale touching and laying over the manatees in the water including a calf.
Massengale became verbally combative with the FWC officer, chanted “take me to jail,” and was even told by another person on the scene to “hit them [the officers] in the face so that they’d have to take him to jail.”
He was arrested by a Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy and placed into an isolation cell at Plantation Key Jail after he refused to provide his information to the correction’s officers.