Spinnaker Dr. and Hernando Dr, Marco
MARCO ISLAND — Three manatees spent most of Tuesday beached in shallow water at Tigertail Beach on Marco Island before a rising tide freed them.
An English couple walking the beach, a fisherman, a sea turtle monitor and Marco police were among the first to spot the stuck marine mammals around 10 a.m.
Two manatees were stranded behind a sand bar in the lagoon at the north end of Tigertail, and a third manatee was beached about a quarter-mile north, near Hideaway Beach.
At first, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists worried that the third manatee, about 7 feet long, appeared thin and might be sick.
That turned out to be a false alarm, and the manatee freed itself and swam away as the rising tide came in about mid-afternoon.
Workers kept the manatee cool with wet towels while they kept an eye on its condition.
The two other manatees, one 5 feet long and the other 10 feet long, soon were also swimming freely Tuesday afternoon.
The manatees did not appear to be suffering from any injuries, such as wounds caused by a boat strike, Conservation Commission spokeswoman Carli Segelson said.
Segelson said Tuesday’s manatee encounter provided a textbook example of how to handle such situations.
Stranded manatees should not be pushed back into deeper water as this can do more harm than good, she said.
Anyone who sees a stranded or injured manatee should call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).