Authorities in St. Lucie County, Florida, arrested a man earlier this week after he posted photos on Facebook showing him manhandling a manatee calf he spotted in Taylor Creek.
One of the photos shows Ryan William Waterman of Fort Pierce letting one of his young daughters sit on the manatee.
A Facebook friend of Waterman's tipped Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials, who filed charges against Waterman.
He was arrested on Sunday for violating the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, which prohibits molesting, harassing, or disturbing manatees.
Florida classifies manatees as endangered species.
Waterman was booked into St. Lucie County Jail, but was released the following day after posting a $2,500 bond.
Speaking with CBS12 News, Waterman claimed he was unaware of the law against harassing manatees, and confessing to having handled them before.
"I never heard that it was wrong, I never thought it would be wrong," he said.
If convicted, Waterman faces up to six months in jail and a fine of $500.
"An interaction that may seem harmless and innocent may ultimately have serious consequences for manatees and other wildlife," the FWC said in a statement.
One official, a manatee expert, noted that the calf in the photo may have been experiencing "manatee cold-stress syndrome," a lethal condition that may have been worsened by Waterman's actions.
Manatee harassment in Florida last made headlines in November, when a woman was caught on camera going for a joy ride on one at Fort Desoto Park.
[screengrabs via WPTV]