Dramatic Rescue: Watch These Florida Beachgoers Carry a Manatee Back to Sea

The stranded young sea cow got whiffs of oxygen from a scuba tank before it was returned to the water.
Jun 26, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Manatees like to be left alone. Usually they languidly swim by themselves or hang out with other sea cows in pairs or small groups. One whiskery giant, though, didn’t appear to mind when a few beachgoers came to its rescue yesterday afternoon.

The manatee attracted a crowd when it became stranded on Disappearing Island in Ponce Inlet, Fla. It’s not uncommon for the marine mammals to beach themselves during mating season, WESH Orlando reports. Volunteers gave it shade, water, and oxygen from a scuba tank before a Florida Fish and Wildlife biologist arrived on the scene to examine it.

“A lot of times they will just work themselves back out, but she’s just so tired, she hasn’t been able to get back out,” Terri Hanna, one rescuer, told WESH.

When the biologist didn’t see any health damage or signs of capture, the animal was tagged and slowly transferred to a stretcher. It was then carried back to the open water by more than a dozen people.

“Tagging manatees is important, so if it strands again, or even if at some point she were to die, we are able to scan that tag and find out who she is and where she has been,” biologist Rachel Cimino explained. “So it helps us with life histories and where these manatees actually travel to.”

The underwater herbivores swim near the surface along the American coastline from Florida to Brazil. Some species dwell in the Amazon River and African rivers and coastal areas. Humans historically hunted manatees for their meat and hide, putting them on the endangered species list. Now powerboats are the biggest threat to the slow swimmers.

Though the rescue was touching—after all, humans are manatees’ only known predators—the FWC warns that the public should always call authorities and shouldn’t touch sick or injured animals.