A couple of years ago a Florida man posted pictures on Facebook of himself and his daughters playing with a baby manatee. Sounds innocent enough but according to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, “it is illegal to molest, harass, disturb or touch a manatee”. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission authorities arrested the Florida native.
The man had no idea it was illegal to touch the “vulnerable species”. The man faced a misdemeanor charge that entails a couple hundred dollars fine and a couple months in jail. He meant no harm to the little manatee.
The manatee is protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, by the Endangered Species Act of 1978, and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. If convicted of violating these laws one faces stiff penalties, possible maximum fine of $500 and/or imprisonment for up to 60 days. If convicted on the Federal level, one is punishable by a fine up to $50,000 and/or one year in prison.
Passive observation is the recommended way to interact with manatees and all marine life. Remember look but do not touch. Save the manatees.