Florida manatee found with ‘TRUMP’ etched into back
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the manatee did not appear hurt, and the word was only etched into the algae covering its body.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has opened an investigation after the discovery of a manatee found in a Florida river with the word “TRUMP” written on its side.
Found in the headwaters of the Homosassa River in Citrus County, agency officials said the manatee did not appear hurt, and the word was only etched into the algae covering its body.
Hailey Warrington, who filmed footage of the manatee, said that she caught the images while leading a tour in the area.
“It was an uncharacteristic thing for us to see,” the boat captain told a local news station, adding that even though it didn’t look like it was wounded, “it did seem that the animal was very upset.”
Manatees were on the endangered species list until 2017, when they were downgraded after some population growth. They still have protection under state and federal law. The harm or harassment of a manatee is a federal crime punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year and a $50,000 fine.
Often called “sea cows,” manatees move slowly, which makes them vulnerable to human interaction.
Journalist Yashar Ali shared video of the creature on Twitter on Monday, where it was shared thousands of times.
Angry responses were swift.
“This says everything. Broken, sick, entitled and enabled people,” one user replied.
Another wrote, “I spent my adolescence in south Florida. Manatees are gentle, intelligent, and intriguing creatures. I hope the person who did this is found and held accountable.”
“MONSTERS. I don’t even have the words for this. Why would anyone do this to that poor animal?” wondered someone else. “Just WHY?! Genuinely horrifying.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is offering a $5,000 reward for information about who wrote on the manatee.
“Manatees aren’t billboards, and people shouldn’t be messing with these sensitive and imperiled animals for any reason,” Jaclyn Lopez, the center’s Florida director, told Buzzfeed. “However this political graffiti was put on this manatee, it’s a crime to interfere with these creatures, which are protected under multiple federal laws.”