CLEARWATER, Fla. — A dead manatee was found on Wednesday near the Sand Key Bridge in Clearwater, according to FWC.
William Brouard, the operations manager of Clearwater Jetski And Fun Boats located on Clearwater Beach, was opening up shop when he noticed the manatee floating upside-down in the water.
"I immediately jumped into rescue mode and contacted local authorities to help remove the carcass from our waters," Brouard told ABC Action News.
They towed the deceased manatee behind a jet ski to the Seminole Boat Ramp where proper wildlife authorities assisted in removing the animal.
Number of manatee deaths in Florida this year has already surpassed the total for all of 2017
"I then saw that there were babies that were sticking with the deceased mother or father and followed us for about two hours as we towed the parent manatee to the authorities for proper removal," Brouard said.
Brouard says that local authorities did not take the smaller manatees with them because they were deemed old enough to survive without a parent. He also says that there was another large manatee following close by, and presumed it was the other parent.
"It was a very sad morning for all of us in the Tampa Bay area," Brouard added.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium notified FWC’s manatee stranding team of the dead manatee around noon. FWC says that the cause of death is still under investigation, but say that the carcass was very decomposed.
FWC is encouraging the public to continue to report sick, injured or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.