Save the manatee.
A manatee spotted Wednesday morning in the Intracoastal Waterway south of Sunrise Boulevard had a life vest stuck to it.
Luckily, the creature was soon assisted by Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Fireboat 49.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The crew from the emergency response vessel tweeted a video with the caption: “Fireboat 49 assisting a manatee in distress.”
As of early afternoon, rescuers were still on the scene, around Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, awaiting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“The vest’s harness is wrapped all the way around its torso,” reported Battalion Chief Greg May, who was unclear of the gender. “The jacket is kind of floating on top and it’s keeping him from diving down the way they normally do.”
May doesn’t suspect foul play.
“Personally, I think it was just debris in the water,” he said. “He probably swam up to it, and as it dove down he took the vest with him.”
May also doubts a person could even get a vest around a manatee.
“This is a big one. Probably eight feet and 1,000 pounds. I don’t see how someone could get next to it.”
A diver was sent down to make contact, but the manatee “got spooked and took off.”
May is confident the sea cow will be rescued in good time.
He recalled an incident in May 2015 when a rescue team rescued a female manatee from a storm drain tunnel in Fort Lauderdale.
“They used a giant stretcher to get it out of the pipe and then sent it for rehab,” May said. “That’s likely what will happen this time.”
He added that the giant creature is “beautiful.”