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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — After hours of trying, Florida Fish and Wildlife crews finally pulled a manatee in distress out of the water. The manatee had a life jacket on it and they were able to get it off before freeing the manatee.
Crews had been struggling to get the life jacket off since the manatee did not want to cooperate.
The manatee was first spotted in the Intracoastal Waterway south of Sunrise Boulevard but by the afternoon, it was in the waters of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.
At first, people nearby thought it was just a life jacket floating in the water.
Annie Gevorkian, who was visiting at the time said, “When you look closely at it, it’s a poor little manatee and he’s stuck in this vest! I don’t know, it must’ve gotten trapped, vest overboard, who knows.”
Every time they would get close to the animal, it would dive underwater, away from the help of rescuers, apparently afraid of the boats and swimmers who were just trying to help free the gentle sea cow from the bright orange life jacket.
Amber Howell, a biologist with Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation explained how this could have happened.
“They are very curious animals so they will play with items left in the water, but we’re not sure how it got on there. It seemed to be a perfect fit.”
Rescue crews placed a chip in the animal in case it comes back and is in distress.