Written by Stephen Messenger
The basic rules to follow when leaping into a body of water are neither long nor complicated: only jump from a survivable height, don’t try to inhale once you’re under the surface, and always be sure your landing spot is free of rocks, small children, and federally protected marine life.
Officials from the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are currently investigating a bizarre and blatant case of animal cruelty after video came to light of a man gleefully jumping on two manatees in a canal in Cocoa Beach, Florida. While the motive for such behavior is unclear, one can only assume it was part of a successful bid to be a jerk.
“It’s sad,” says Fish and Wildlife Officer Lenny Salberg. “Here you have a manatee just swimming down a canal not hurting anyone. To actually go out of your way to harm them, what would make you want to do that?”
According to Salberg, the men in the video, including the cameraman who can be heard taking joy in the display of idiocy, will likely face manatee harassment charges which could result in 60 days jail sentence and include a fine of $500.
The Orlando Sentinel has called this filmed aggression “the most egregious of three acts of manatee abuse reported across the state in the past year”. Other recent incidents in Florida include a man letting his kids sit on a manatee calf, and also a woman who thought it would be a good idea to ride one like a pool raft.
Florida manatees are currently listed as endangered species, with roughly 2,500 individuals remaining. Their biggest threats, come from human activity — and not just those going out of their way to be jerks. Threats from climate change, lethal algae blooms, and motorboat accidents continue to put these animals in peril.
This post was originally published by TreeHugger.
Photo: flickker photos/flickr