Cocoa Beach men may face charges after 'cannonballing' manatees

Published On: May 21 2013 09:34:30 AM EDT
Updated On: May 21 2013 06:42:39 PM EDT

A video re-posted to Facebook has prompted wildlife officials to investigate a man seen jumping onto the backs of a manatee and her calf.

COCOA BEACH, Fla. -

Wildlife investigators say two men could be facing federal charges after a video surfaced online of one man jumping onto a manatee and her calf.

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"What was their intent? Were they actually out to hurt this manatee or were they just joking around thinking it was a big joke," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Officer Lenny Salberg.

"It's right here, look, it's a huge one," said one man, pointing at the manatee.

Salberg says the men have been identified, and are cooperating with investigators.

"You can charge them federal because they're federally protected, or we can charge them at the state level, but at this point it looks like they're going to charged at the federal level," he said.

The men could face two federal counts of molesting a manatee, which could mean $50,000 fine and up to one year behind bars.

Jon Mallory of Merritt Island says sometimes manatees get in the way of his fishing, but he would never dare hurt one.

"It's just a shame that people do that, and believe me, they're not the only ones that do it, there's a lot of them around," he said.

Wildlife officials would not release the names of the men involved, but say two are from Cocoa Beach.

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