State wildlife officials spent hours Thursday afternoon rescuing a baby manatee outside a Mile Marker 103 bayside hotel.
"It was away from its mother and by itself," said Bobby Dube, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
He said the manatee needed to be rescued mainly because it was alone. FWC officials had been told to be on the lookout for the calf.
In an email, FWC Officer Douglas Krieger said he began searching Tarpon Basin in the early morning, including canals, until he found the manatee along a seawall at the Hampton Inn.
Krieger monitored the animal for about five hours while waiting on rescuers to arrive. Once on scene, FWC's Manatee Group tried three times to capture the baby with a net, with little success. The group then used a patrol boat to corral the animal into shallow water. From there, rescuers carried the manatee onto shore and underneath a shade tree.
The manatee was out of the water about 15 minutes before a Miami Seaquarium group took the calf to the mainland, according to the email.
The spectacle drew the attention of many of the hotel guests and personnel, according to general manager Christina Gilbert.
"The manatee appeared sick," Gilbert said. "You could tell it was malnourished."
Gilbert said about 30 people lined the shore to watch the rescue.
The witnesses were watching something that doesn't happen very often. While adult manatee rescues are quite common, a calf rescue in Key Largo is not.
"This is first one in several years," Dube said.
A public relations group for Miami Seaquarium acknowledged the situation late Friday, but could not immediately provide specific information on the manatee's health.