A Florida man apparently attempting to be funny was videotaped sending a pod of manatees into a frenzied eruption by his ill-advised (and possibly illegal) actions along the St. John’s River in Debary, Florida.
Now the man, Scott McCormick, is under investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for harassing manatees, an endangered and protected species.
WFTV reported that such an act is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida and violators could face up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine, while federal penalties include up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine.
The video was posted on Facebook and subsequently licensed by ViralHog where McCormick’s wife Maria wrote, “My husband was bailing water out of our boat after a huge storm. Every time he threw the water we saw splashes in the water. I happened to be recording on one of the tosses and we saw huge splashes of water everywhere. We both looked at each other and said ‘I will never swim in there again!'”
Apparently, the implication was that the huge eruption was made by alligators, but manatees are known for such behavior when disturbed in such a way.
Here is the full video:
The online reaction was one of outrage at McCormick for disturbing the manatees, though the FWC had not yet confirmed the identity of the animals.
“I get angry, absolutely angry,” Jack Bering told WKMG.
“When I saw the video, I was disgusted,” William Murphy told WFTV. “[I] was angry because you shouldn’t do that to the manatees.”
One commenter on Facebook wrote that McCormick should have known better since he knows about manatees and lives on the water. He has since suspended his Facebook page.
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