Rescuers free manatee tangled in life vest in Fort Lauderdale waterways

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Rescuers worked for several hours to successfully catch a manatee swimming in the Intracoastal Waterway with a life vest tangled around it.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a rescue group arrived on scene and managed to capture the manatee in a net just before 4:30 p.m., Wednesday.

“It couldn’t dive very well, so without it being able to dive to feed, it wouldn’t have been able to survive very long with a life jacket on it,” said Amber Howell with the FWC.

They hoisted the nearly 300-pound manatee out of the water near One Key Drive and onto a grassy area near the dock to get the life jacket off.

“A really healthy, active animal. There’s nothing wrong with it physically other than that life jacket being on it,” Howell said, “so it did give us a little run for our money with the hoop net.”

Once they untangled the life vest from the animal’s back, rescuers worked together to get the manatee back into the water.

“It shows how great Americans are, and what we’ll do to save an American life,” said one witness. “A life, any life or an animal. It’s a feel-good story.”

Initially, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue responded earlier in the day to reports of a “manatee in distress” in the Intracoastal Waterway near Sunrise Boulevard.

They have placed a microchip on the manatee to follow him and make sure he is OK.

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