Watch: FWC investigating man ‘harassing' manatees in St. John's River

By: Mike Springer , WFTV Web Staff

Updated:

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told Channel 9’s Mike Springer Tuesday that they're investigating reports of a man who harassed manatees in Volusia County.

Scott McCormick posted video to his Facebook page June 16 that appears to show him smiling and throwing something into the river, and then several manatees can be seen splashing around. It’s not clear what McCormick threw into the river.

Read: Woman photographed riding manatee faces charges

His Facebook post has sparked outrage and comments from thousands.

"When I saw the video, I was disgusted. (I) was angry, because you shouldn't do that to the manatees," said William Murphy, a Volusia County resident.

FWC said to Eyewitness News that while most people tend to respect manatees and leave them alone, it is not unusual to see people sometimes get to close to the creatures by swimming or by boat, especially during mating season.

Harassing any protected or endangered species is a second-degree misdemeanor in the state of Florida, according to FWC. If the animal is also federally protected, there could be federal charges too.  

If someone violates state law protecting manatees, they could face up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine. Federal penalties include up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Eyewitness News has reached out to McCormick for comment.

Officials with FWC would not confirm if they've talked to McCormick and would not say what type of animal was splashing around the river.

FWC said alligators normally travel in groups and it would have to be a large animal to cause that much commotion.

 

Next Up: