ORLANDO, Fla. - When a manatee was spotted stranded in shallow water in the Florida Keys, a Monroe County sheriff's deputy jumped into action.
Middle Keys Marine Deputy Willie Guerra was stopped Thursday by passersby and troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol in Layton who noticed the manatee with a cub. Deputy Guerra jumped out of his boat and waded over to get them both back to deeper water. As Deputy Guerra approached and splashed water on the sea cow, it began thrashing about in the water and slapped its tail fluke in the deputy's direction. Eventually, it freed itself.
It's not uncommon for manatees to strand themselves on beaches and in shallow water. While manatees can mate throughout the year, the summer months are the most active. Occasionally, females intentionally strand themselves to escape a mating herd, experts say, and they return to the water as the tide rises.
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Manatees are located throughout Florida in both saltwater and freshwater waterways. Manatees are a protected species, and it is illegal to "feed, harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, annoy, or molest manatees," according to the FWC's website.
If you see an injured, distressed, or sick manatee, you can contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline, 888-404-FWCC (3922).