DUNEDIN (FOX 13) - A thirsty manatee made friends with a fisherman and his water hose this week, proving the theory that manatees are the cutest animals in the sea. Though, Florida Fish and Wildlife were quick to remind everyone that feeding and giving water to manatees is actually illegal.
Julie Hart shared a video of her father-in-law, Sam Hart spraying fresh water into the manatee's mouth.
Hart says Sam was working on his boat, which is always docked in the same spot when the manatee appeared.
Hart says Sam is the former owner of Sam's Fresh Seafood in Dunedin, but is now retired.
According to Dr. Katie Tripp with Save the Manatee, manatees do not drink salt water, even though they swim in salt, brackish and freshwater. They can go without fresh water for extended periods but eventually must return to fresh water sources for hydration - about every one or two weeks.
Dr. Tripp says people do not need to give manatees fresh water from hoses, and though it was a sweet moment that was captured on video, FWC says this is actually an example of what not to do.
Here are some of the manatee viewing guidelines provided by FWC:
"Look, but don't touch manatees. Also, don't feed manatees or give them water. If manatees become accustomed to being around people, they can alter their behavior in the wild, perhaps causing them to lose their natural fear of boats and humans, which may make them more susceptible to harm. The manatee is protected under federal law by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which makes it illegal to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal. The manatee is also protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978, which states: "It is unlawful for any person, at any time, intentionally or negligently, to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb any manatee."