MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) — Visitors at Miramar Beach in Walton County, Florida got a pleasant surprise when they spotted a herd of manatees swimming right off the coast.

Video of the herd was shared by the South Walton Fire District.

The herd was recorded by Lifeguard Courtney Campbell.

The Fire District said that although Campbell got close enough to record a video, she made sure not to touch the creatures.

“Manatees are a protected species by state and federal laws,” the fire district said. “Unfortunately, their population numbers continue to decline. As a result, manatees are now also a threatened species.”

Florida has seen a record number of manatee deaths in 2021. Some biologists believe water pollution is killing seagrass, the manatees’ food source, along with deaths from boat strikes.

The federal government says approximately 6,300 manatees live in Florida waters, up from about 1,300 in the early 1990s.

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