Fort Pierce, FL – The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a woman from a frightening assault by a herd of manatees yesterday near Pepper Park Beach.
Reportedly, the woman went for a swim when she was suddenly caught up by a herd of male manatees that possibly mistook the woman for a female manatee.
“I was just playing around in the water when I suddenly noticed a herd of manatees next to me. At first I was curious, but eventually I became scared when they started getting agitated. Then something pulled me underwater and as I gagged for air, I felt the crushing weight of one of the beasts on my back and at that moment, I thought I was going to die” she recalls, visibly traumatized by the latest events. “It all happened in a flash, all I remember is the horrifying sight of the manatees trying to grab me and force me into submission. Luckily, a man on a jet ski caught their attention and scared them away moments before the Coast Guard rescued me,” she told local reporters.
The sexual assault of the herd of manatees on a human being could be explained by the menstrual cycle of the woman, believes Jane Keller, professor of biology at the University of South Florida.
“When a female manatee goes into estrus, she is soon detected and pursued by numerous male manatees throughout the cycle. During that time, the female can mate with a dozen or more males in what is known as an estrus or mating herd. It is possible that the animals mistook the bloody vaginal discharge of the victim’s period as a female manatee in estrus,” she explains. “I would definitely suggest that women not go swimming during their menstrual cycle in areas where manatee mating occurs,” she warns.
Tyler Smith, a 17-year-old lifeguard present at the scene, believes she is lucky to be alive.
“We often see manatees nearby but it’s the first time they attack someone,” he admits. “There were so many manatees around her, I think I counted at least 10 of them. She is definitely lucky to be alive” he acknowledges, visibly distraught by the whole affair.
Although experts claim this is an unprecedented and isolated incident, increased security measures will be taken to prevent further occurrences of such tragic incidents, say local authorities.