By Federico Cornetto
A wild manatee hugged a swimmer snorkelling nearby.
On March 29, 29-year-old Mandy Egner was swimming in Crystal River, Florida, when she was approached by the huge sea cow.
The animal swam close to Mandy, observed her for a while and finally hugged her with its flippers.
Mandy shouts ‘he’s taking me down’ as the chubby manatee locked her in a passionate embrace.
Mandy said: “My first thought was maintaining contact within the FWC guidelines, since they are very protected animals.
“Then it was ‘oh my gosh is this really happening, how special’.
“Crystal River is one of the only places where it is legal to swim with manatees on a guided tour.
“Each manatee behaves differently.
“A lot of their activity depends on the snorkelers because they are so sensitive and can feel your heartbeat up to 15 metres away.
“The calmer you are, the more likely they are to check you out.”
At all times Mandy says she adhered to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s viewing guidelines, which advise swimmers to keep their distance and ‘passively observe’ manatees.