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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – Two Florida deputies helped rescue a distressed manatee that was unable to keep its head above water, keeping the animal above sea level until help arrived.

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According to a news release from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Jill Constant and her partner received a call about a manatee in distress several weeks ago.

Constant, a member of the sheriff’s office Marine and Environmental Lands Unit, said the manatee was attempting to beach itself on some rocks in the Intracoastal Waterway.

“This manatee is going to die right in front of us and I’m not letting that happen,” Constant said in the news release. “We docked the boat, I took off my equipment, and got in. We stayed in the water for two hours holding its head up until it could be rescued.”

Constant and her partner managed to keep the manatee’s head above water while waiting for officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to arrive, WFLA-TV reported.

As the manatee began regaining its strength, it began fighting sheriff’s deputies, thrashing in the water, according to the television station.

“At the end of the process it was not happy with us,” Constant said in a statement. “At the beginning it was too exhausted, but after a while it had recovered its strength a little and it started thrashing. I thought I was going to drown — a martyr for the cause.”

The FWC biologists arrived to take over the rescue effort, and officials believe the manatee will make a full recovery, WTVT reported.

According to the sheriff’s office, the manatee was suffering from the effects of toxins produced by red tide in west-central Florida.