Lafayette High School student steps in to rescue injured manatee

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MARCO ISLAND, FL (KTVI) - Ryan Oberlin not only remembers what happened off the coast of Marco Island, Florida, he still feels it.

“Oh, definitely. My shoulders and traps are burning this morning,” Oberlin said in an interview with KTVI via FaceTime with his family.

Oberlin stepped in to help rescue an injured manatee Wednesday. His family spotted a police boat and rescue crews trying to hoist the creature to a boat.

“One guy pointed at [Ryan] and said, ‘We need you,’” said Tara Oberlin Weishaar, Ryan's sister.

Oberlin immediately jumped in to lend a hand. Dozens of people, many of them strangers, helped lift the animal, which was estimated to weigh about 1,300 pounds.

“It looked like a walrus without any tusks. And it had a big – instead of having flippers on the back - it just one big paddle flipper,” Oberlin said. “Panting really heavily. It was breathing in and out. And it had some scars on the back from getting hit by a propeller.”

Assisting with the rescue was a surprise experience for the Lafayette High School junior and his family.

“It was pretty cool. I definitely wasn’t expecting that,” he said.

It’s also earned him a temporary nickname.

"Manatee Man,” his sister said.

The manatee was safely transported to Tampa for rehabilitation.