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Boat strike injures manatee near Fort Myers Beach

A manatee was injured early Saturday afternoon near the Coast Guard Station on Fort Myers Beach. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office and FWC Law Enforcement both responded to the scene.

FWC biologists determined she had an internal injury causing her to stay on the water’s surface.

Witnesses say she was hit by a boat near the Coast Guard station.

The FWC and LCSO marine unit rescued the manatee from the water. The female manatee was about 1,000 pounds and ten feet long.

People out on the water say they saw plenty of manatees and are upset that one was injured.

“When I was getting fuel, I saw the sheriff boat watching over the manatee until FWC could come up and rescue the guy and see what needed to be done,” said Lauren Swaim, Captain of the Southwest Florida Party Pontoon.

Swaim says she’s seen far too many dolphins and manatees covered in scars from boats. Now she’s upset that this 1,005-pound manatee has been added to that list.

“I think one of my friends cried when they saw it. It’s sad. You never want to see it,” she said.

She’s afraid that this won’t be the last animal that gets injured. The next time, she fears, they won’t be taking the animal alive.

“Unfortunately just people don’t pay enough attention when they are out on the water,” Swaim said. “They are out with their friends. They want to go wherever they want to go and not many of them are looking for our wildlife like they should.”

This holiday weekend Swaim hopes everyone slows down and keeps their eyes open for aquatic wildlife.

“If you’re on a boat there is no need to go flying through a slow speed zone. You’re on the boat to enjoy it,” she said.

The manatee is being relocated to ZooTampa at Lowry Park for rehabilitation. Both FWC and Lauren Swaim wish her a speedy recovery.

Officials say aquatic animal injuries like this one can be easily prevented. If you ever happen to see a stranded animal, FWC recommends following this list of tips:

  • STOP: Don’t Push Them Back
  • CALL: The Wildlife Alert Hotline (1-888-404-3922)
  • ASSIST: Following the directions of the biologist
  • You can directly support manatee rescue, research and conservation with the purchase of a specialty “Save the Manatee” license plate: bit.ly/2IV7nYn
Reporter:Andryanna Sheppard
Writer:Drew Hill
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