TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. - Heartbreaking video taken Sunday showed a manatee in distress with a large laceration on its back in the Intracoastal waterway near Treasure Island.
Emily Hughart first noticed the injured animal while she was sitting on her dock.
“She just had a gaping wound on her back. You could see the blood coming out. She wasn’t coming up for air like the others were," she said.
A manatee calf could also be seen swimming nearby.
Hughart and her family immediately called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for help. Officials arrived to the area near 79th Avenue in Treasure Island just after 5 p.m. Sunday evening.
“It’s very upsetting. I could see the wound, I could see how bad it was. But I knew it did have a wound on it. When I went over there and got a closer look that’s when I realized, 'Wow, this guy needs help,'" Karen Hughart said.
The animal has a large laceration at least 2 feet long on its back. The cut could be the result of a boat strike, but FWC said it’s simply too early to tell.
FWC staff paddled near the manatee via kayak to get an assessment of the injury. Neighbors are holding out hope the manatee survives and is able to make a full recovery.
“My fear and obviously their fears are infection can set in that wound so they’re going to monitor her. Everybody out there, if they happen to see her, call FWC," Karen Hughart said.
FWC said it is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to do so into Monday morning. Based on how the manatee is doing Monday, they will then decide the best course of action.