The pier is a place where visitors can usually spot manatees. It’s also become a hotspot for people playing the popular game Pokemon Go.
This week, a group of friends caught something much larger than a Pokemon: a distressed manatee. Christopher Beksha says his only option at the time was to help the manatee, which had rope wrapped around its neck.
“It was quite exhilarating,” Beksha said. “Going through my mind, it was more of an instinct reaction to save something in need.”
Of course, it was captured on video by Pokemon Go players. The video also shows two of those players jumped in to help Beksha as he cut the rope around the manatee’s neck.
Taylor Lepage was one of those players.
“I didn’t want to leave him alone to struggle with this big manatee,” she said. “I ended up getting in the water by the time it was over. I wrapped my arms around its tail while he was cutting the first rope. I had the buoy in my hand and noticed he was dragging me, so he was still attached.”
Allan Craig jumped in, too.
“I’m a pretty big guy. That manatee tossed me around like I was a rag doll,” he said.
That’s why Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say the trio should have called a professional instead.
“It’s very easy when you’re around a manatee thrashing and rolling around, that rope like this can get around your foot or hand, and you’re not able to get it off in time, and the animal dives down in the water,” FWC biologist Andy Garrett said.
Beksha and his new Pokemon Go friends say this was a one-time thing, and they’ll call a professional next time.
If you spot a manatee in distress, contact the FWC’s emergency hotline at 1-888-404-3922.