Man jumps onto manatee; charges could be filed

Updated:

Loading

COCOA BEACH, Fla. - Three Cocoa Beach men could be charged with harming or molesting a manatee after a YouTube video surfaced showing a man jumping onto a manatee.

An official from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the video was shot about a year ago, but was just re-posted earlier in the week.

"Watch, I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it," said one man on a dock, as two manatees swam in the water.

Moments later, the man can be seen jumping onto the manatee.

FWC's Internet Crimes Unit is investigating the men in the video with the assistance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We've investigated all three suspected in that video, it was filmed in Cocoa Beach. All three are in their 20s and are local residents," Officer Lenny Salberg with FWC said.

The unnamed men have not yet been charged.

Salberg said they are investigating the intent.

"Were these guys looking to jump and hurt the manatee (on) its back, versus swimming with the manatee?" Salberg said.

The charges could carry stiff state and federal penalties. Many residents think it should.

"(Manatees) already got enough problems with all the propellers and boats, they need to be left alone, and let them have peace," resident Mary Cole said.

Manatees are a protected species. On the state level, anyone harming or molesting a manatee could be fined $500 and get six months in jail. If federal charges are filed, that could mean a $50,000 fine and a year in jail.