Manatees on Florida Beach (Video)

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Picture 121Swimmers often fear seeing a dark shadow when swimming in the ocean and on one Florida beach this weekend, swimmers experienced just that. Luckily, it was only a group of friendly manatees, not hungry man-eaters.

Swimmers on a crowded Fort Lauderdale beach were treated to an exciting marine mammal encounter when about five manatees swam in close to shore. Lifeguards cleared the area of swimmers immediately though most ran back to their towels, grabbed their cameras and returned to snap pictures of the massive manatees.

A video of the exciting event went viral afterward. The video documented the manatees arrival, their swimming around in the water, and beach goers that tried to pet them while others ran for their lives.

According to Huffington Post, 38-year-old Craig Hossack caught the cool event on camera and later posted to YouTube. Hossack said the manatees, who hung around for a half hour, seemed to be in a mating mode but a closer look suggested a mother and four or five calves competing for suckling privileges, Sun Sentinel reported.

“When we decided to go to the beach today,” reads Hossack’s video description. “We had no idea we would be treated to a very special appearance by some very large and very cute West Indian manatees; multiple males vying for the affection of one female.”

The manatees were reported as West Indian Manatees, a type of manatee that is native to Florida waters. According to National Geographic, the manatees live from Florida to Brazil and can reach up to 13 feet and weigh up to 1,300 pounds.  They often feed on sea grass and are described as graceful swimmers and gentle animals.

National Geographic also reported that the manatees, while they have no natural enemies, are often victims of boats, which mow the slow-moving creatures down if they can’t get out of the way in time.

Check it out.