TAMPA, Fla. (NewsNationNow) — “Guardians of the Galaxy” actor and retired pro wrestler Dave Bautista is offering a $20,000 reward to catch whoever wrote “Trump” into a Florida manatee’s back.
Tampa resident Bautista recently said on Twitter he is offering the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved, adding “And I promise, there will be bonuses to that reward!”
A video showing the gentle sea cow emerged with the word “TRUMP” written in algae on its back went viral after it was spotted in the Homosassa River in Citrus County. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are looking for any information regarding the animal’s harassment.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the manatee does not appear to be seriously injured.
The diver that discovered the manatee, Hailey Warrington, told NewsNation affiliate WFLA that she believes the etched marks were most likely made by fingernails, but the manatee did not have superficial wounds.
A nonprofit group that protects endangered animals is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case. Harassing a manatee is a federal crime, and is punishable by a $50,000 fine and up to one year in prison under the Endangered Species Act.
“Manatees aren’t billboards, and people shouldn’t be messing with these sensitive and imperiled animals for any reason,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity “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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.