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Stranded manatee rescued on Marco Island waters after getting stuck during low tide


Omar Rodríguez Ortiz   | Marco Eagle

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff and volunteers rescued a stranded manatee on Marco Island waters on Monday.

FWC seabird biologist Brittany Piersma was on Tigertail Lagoon when she saw a 10-foot-long, 900-pound female manatee stranded during low tide in the morning of Aug. 24, wrote Jean Hall, seabird steward.

Piersma immediately called the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline. Piersma and Hall poured water over the manatee using a bucket and covered it with a sheet to protect it from the sun.

FWC Officer Jessica Conroy later arrived to assist the duo but they all had to temporarily leave the manatee by itself due to severe weather, Piersma wrote. When it was safe they headed back to the scene, this time with FWC's Marine Mammal Rescue unit members Hada Herring, Emily Davidson and Megan Krzewinski.

The unit analyzed the manatee and made the decision to wait until the water levels rose to see if it could move by itself, Piersma wrote. Around 4 p.m., six hours after she first spotted the manatee, it slowly was able to move to deeper waters. 

"We walked the lagoon with her until we knew she was well on her way toward the Gulf," Piersma wrote. "Seeing her swim away was a happy ending to a long day."

A tidally stranded manatee occurs when manatees are in shallow areas and the tide recedes, leaving the manatee on sandbanks like this one, wrote Carol Lyn Parrish, spokesperson with FWC. 

"Never push back a stranded marine mammal back out to sea if found stranded on the beach," Parrish wrote. "If you see a marine mammal in distress, you should contact FWC immediately so trained professionals can assess the animal and give it the medical attention it may need."

If you spot a stranded manatee, please call FWC's Wildlife Alert hotline: 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922).

Contact Omar at omar.rodriguezortiz@naplesnews.com, and follow him on Twitter as @Omar_fromPR. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.