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Florida sheriff's office helps release rescued manatee back into the wild

The 1,100 pound manatee nicknamed "Darling" was found by the sheriff's office in February after it had ingested red tide and needed help.
Credit: Lee County Sheriff's Office

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — After months of rehabilitation and treatment, a 1,100 manatee was released back into the wild by some of the people who helped rescue her. 

The Lee County Sheriff's Office posted a video to its Facebook page of the manatee, nicknamed "Darling" being carried back into the water. 

Its deputies are no stranger to that particular sea cow. 

In February, the sheriff's office said its marine unit responded to a call about a manatee stuck in some mangroves. It was Darling. 

The sheriff's office said she got sick after ingesting red tide.

After she was rescued from the mangroves she was off to Zoo Tampa for treatment and rehab, according to the sheriff's office.

Then, on May 12, the sheriff's office said its deputies, along with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers and biologists released her back into the wild. 

RELATED: Florida budget sets $8 million aside to help Florida manatees

Red tide is a “harmful algal bloom,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The blooms happen when the colonies of algae start to grow out of control and produce powerful toxins that harm and even kill marine life, NOAA reports. People also can be affected by red tide. They can experience eye irritation, respiratory issues, asthma and in rare occurrences, death.

In Florida, the most well-known red-tide-causing organism is Karenia brevis, which blooms in the Gulf of Mexico almost every year -- usually in late spring or early fall, according to the FWC. The FWC says Florida's red tides originate in nutrient-poor water that's 11 to 46 miles offshore. Red tide can last anywhere from a few weeks to longer than a year, depending on wind, water, currents, sunlight and other factors.  

RELATED: Tampa Bay lost more than 5,400 acres of seagrass between 2018 and 2020

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