Officials say, two 22-year-old men accused of luring and leaping on top of an adult manatee and a calf were sentenced Friday.
Taylor Blake Martin, of Alabama, and Seth Andrew Stephenson, of Rockledge, previously pleaded guilty to harassing an endangered species, according to the Department of Justice.
Judge George J. Kelly ordered Martin to pay a $3,000 fine, sentenced him to 175 hours of community service and two years of probation, according to a release. Stephenson has to pay a $2,000 fine, and was sentenced to 175 hours of community service and 2 years of probation.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found a video posted on Facebook showed one man luring the two manatees with a water hose and another jump off a Cocoa Beach dock and cannonball the pair. Investigators determined Stephenson lured the lumbering aquatic mammals. Martin hopped in and landed on the back of the adult manatee as they swam away.
According to a release, Martin commented on the video post: "hahaha…in my debue [sic] as tayla the manatee slaya…im f---- ready to cannonball on every manatee living yewwww."
Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Martin and Stephenson were also ordered to individually post "an apology and a statement of remorse" on Facebook, the release said.
"There's absolutely no excuse for this type of reckless behavior with any wildlife species, but particularly those that are endangered," Ken Warren, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson, said in a release. "We hope these sentences serve as a reminder of that and as a deterrent to anyone thinking of harassing or bothering, in any way, manatees or any type of wildlife."
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