Man arrested for riding manatees in south Florida

- A Florida man was arrested for swimming with manatees and trying to ride them in Islamorada.

According to WSVN, the man approached the manatees in a creek behind the Islamorada Library Friday afternoon. A witness told the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that the man exclaimed, "I'm riding it!"

FWC officials responded and when they arrived, they spotted the suspect, identified as James Roy Massengale, Jr., touching and laying over the manatees.

There were two adult manatees and a calf, and officers said he continuously chanted, “take me to jail.”

FWC said he was verbally combative and taken into custody after being cited for annoying, molesting, harassing, or disturbing a manatee. Officials say he was placed in an isolation cell after refusing to provide information to correction's officers.

Manatees are a protected species under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Florida Manatee Sancutary Act.

Those convicted of violating the state law can face up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail. Anyone convicted at the federal level can face fines of up to $50,000 and a year in prison. 

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