Brian Hamacher

Crews Rescue Manatee Stuck in Life Jacket in Fort Lauderdale Waters

After hours of work, manatee freed from life jacket, released back into water

What to Know

  • Footage showed the manatee swimming along with the orange life preserver wrapped around its torso

Crews worked to free a manatee that was found with a life jacket stuck on it in a Fort Lauderdale waterway Wednesday.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue workers responded to the manatee in distress in the Intracoastal Waterway in area of the 700 block of Bayshore Drive, officials said.

Footage showed the manatee swimming along with the orange life preserver wrapped around its torso. At one point, a diver approached to try to remove the jacket but the manatee dove deeper into the water.

"We’ve made contact with the manatee. We put firefighters in the water. We almost had it off but unfortunately the manatee, they’re very strong and the tail hit one of our firefighters and we had to stop doing that operation," Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Greg May said earlier in the afternoon.

Officials said they're not sure how the manatee ended up in the life jacket. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials also responded to help the manatee.

After several hours, FWC and other authorities were able to get the manatee into a net and on shore, where they were able to cut away the life jacket and free the manatee before placing it back in the water.

"They’re very docile but they’re massive. It’s probably eight feet and it’s hundreds and hundreds of pounds," May said. "They’re extremely strong and they’re actually fast in the water when they want to take off."

Contact Us