ORLANDO- Taylor Blake Martin, 22, of Alabama and Seth Andrew Stephenson, 22, of Rockledge, pleaded guilty before a federal judge yesterday to harassing an endangered species.
Each faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $50,000 fine. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
According to court documents, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service became aware of a video posted on Facebook that showed one individual luring two manatees to a dock with a water hose, and another individual jumping off of a boat dock, “cannonballing” an adult manatee and a calf. Further investigation revealed that Martin was the individual who “cannonballed” on top of the manatees. Stephenson was identified as the one who lured the manatees to the dock with the water hose. The video shows Martin landing on the back of the adult manatee as the manatees swim away. Stephenson then begins to use the water hose in an attempt to lure the manatees back as the video ends.
After the video was posted on Facebook, several people commented on it. In response to a post that expressed displeasure with Martin’s actions, Martin responded, “hahaha…in my debue [sic] as tayla the manatee slaya…im f---- ready to cannonball on every manatee living yewwww.”