ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Florida wildlife officials and first responders joined forces Wednesday afternoon to rescue a manatee that stranded itself in the mud in St. Augustine.
The female manatee, which measured nine feet and weighed an estimated 1,000 pounds, got stuck during low tide in a shallow, muddy area of the Matanzas River off Ocean Avenue and east of San Marco Avenue.
According to the St. Augustine Police Department, the 9-foot manatee was at first found upside down. Fortunately, someone stepped in to tend to the manatee until officials could relocate it.
Any Moscoso stepped in to help and said it was his first time rescuing a manatee.
"I felt really bad looking at the poor thing," Moscoso said. "It definitely looked like it was not happy."
Nadia Gordon with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it's an area where manatees often mate and get stranded.
“She will beach herself in order to avoid the males," Gordon said. "In some instances when the tide goes out, they get stranded."
Using a stretcher, several firefighters and wildlife officials were able to hoist the manatee into deeper waters and it swam away.
“It's amazing what you can do with a bunch of people," Moscoso said. "How light the manatee was and how smooth it was to get it to the sea. I was really impressed with the whole team."
Florida wildlife officials said despite being stranded, the manatee was healthy. Officials noted scars on the mammal and microchipped her so she can easily be identified if she ever becomes stranded again.