FORT PIERCE, Fla. - A Fort Pierce man was arrested Sunday for molesting a manatee calf in St. Lucie County, according to authorities.
The Florida Wildlife Commission said it happened in Taylor Creek in January.
Authorities said they received a tip about the incident after pictures were seen on Ryan William Waterman's Facebook account.
According to wildlife officials, Waterman posted pictures of him and two young children petting the manatees. One photo shows a little girl sitting on the calf. Another shows Waterman partially lifting the manatee out the water.
Officials said the manatee calf appeared to be experiencing manatee cold stress syndrome, a condition that can lead to death. Officials said taking the calf out the water may have made the calf's condition worse.
A Florida Wildlife biologist said the young manatee was likely dependent on its mother for food and protection.
Investigators filed charges with the state attorney office for a violation of the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act. Waterman is facing charges for harm, harass, capture or attempt to capture a manatee charges.
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Marine Scientists said the baby sea cow, which is believed to be between two and three weeks old, was rescued in Key Largo.
KeysNet.com reports the two-foot-long manatee was believed to have been without its mother for a week. The young calf was transported to the Miami Seaquarium, where it will stay for at least the next three years before being released.
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