Dark figure lurking near Florida swimmers turns out to be friendly creature

A dark figure lurking near a Florida beach gave swimmers quite the fright — until they realized the approaching creature was a manatee, not a shark.

Multiple beachgoers at Indian Shores, located in Pinellas County, were caught on aerial film reacting to the animal's shadow as it swam just feet away from them.  

One woman can be seen jumping straight into the arms of her male companion as the sea creature approaches the pair. Another trio of women immediately jerked backward and swam toward the shore while keeping their eye on the manatee.

Florida-based company See Through Canoe took to Facebook to share the comical footage, writing that the "friendly manatee kept startling people as he swam down the beach."

"I'm going to call this one 'Boo,'" the company joked.

Although multiple shark attacks have been reported in Florida during 2019 alone, manatee attacks on human beings are unheard of.

Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist and executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, told PBS in 2015 that manatees have no natural predators or enemies and are actually anatomically incapable of using their teeth to attack.

"I've had to have my hand in a manatee’s mouth, and you have to put your whole hand in before you reach the manatee’s teeth," Rose told the outlet. "They're just not capable of any form of aggression."

"They're the most docile, defenseless creature there is," he added.

According to Swimming With a Manatees, a Florida-based tour company, the creatures will not attack a human being even if "severely provoked."

"When manatees feel threatened, they don’t attack," the site claims. "In most cases, they move away from their perceived threats. That also means that when you swim very close to a manatee or begin thrashing and panicking at the sight of one of these sea giants, the animal will move away instead of attacking you." 

Although the creatures are quite large, the company states that their slow speed "means they can't gain enough momentum to cause harm with their bodies."

"A manatee's body is so soft that if the animal crashes into a swimmer, it's like being bumped by a giant pillow," it adds.

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