Woman Uses Hose to Rinse Off Manatee Lost in Florida Algae Bloom
Amid the algae bloom plaguing Florida waters, one woman decided to give one miserable manatee a hand after the marine mammal drifted into her backyard canal.
Since the state of emergency has been declared in four South Florida counties due to the excessive algae bloom, residents in the area have been complaining of its toxic results.
One of those residents was a stray manatee, who appeared to be lost through the muddy water and wound up in a canal behind Chris Mascia Palas' home in Stuart.
"My family and I spotted a manatee struggling out behind our house in the canal," Mascia Palas wrote in a viral Facebook post. "It clearly was in search of fresh water."
Mascia Palas told InsideEdition.com she was shocked to find that a manatee had found its way into their canal, since neither she nor her neighbors have ever seen one in the area.
She and her husband decided to then give the animal a hand.
"We went out and took our masks with us," she said. "We looked for a while and it looked like it was struggling to clear its airway."
In an attempt to give the mammal a break from the algae, which experts say may excrete toxic discharges, she turned on her hose and sprayed the manatee with some fresh water.
"As soon as [my husband] put the hose over the 'muck,' the manatee popped out of the water and started drinking water like never before," she told InsideEdition.com. "It was clear this mammal had not had water in a long time. You could see all the green algae coming out of its nose."
But, since the post went viral, some criticized Mascia Palas for disturbing wildlife, and said she should have left the animal alone.
"I would never for no good reason bother a beautiful manatee, invade its space, feed it, or anything of the sort," Mascia Palas responded in another Facebook post.
Wildlife expert Dan Martinelli of the Treasure Coast Wildlife Hospital said: "I wouldn't encourage other people to go out of their way to do it, but I wouldn't see that it's causing particular harm."
He explained that although the manatee was likely to have already been frequenting the waters out of human view, the algae bloom is expected to be harmful to people and wildlife in the coming days.
Because the blue-green algae blocks oxygen from entering the water and also excretes toxins, Martinelli said he suspects fish and other marine life will be harmed.
In addition, people in the area are complaining about headaches, and a smell of cow manure coming from the waters that people have been comparing to "guacamole," a spokesperson for Martin County said.
According to Martinelli, algae is present in the waters all the time, but excess algae, known as algae bloom, can occur when fresh water is flushed into a salt water estuary during rainy season.
Fresh water often contains a high level of phosphorus and nitrogen that become natural fertilizers to cause blue-green algae to grow at a rapid rate.
As a result, beaches in South Florida have been closed after Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Lee County, Palm Beach County, Martin County and St. Lucie County.
The last major algae bloom in Florida happenned in 2013, Martinelli said