MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - An injured spotted eagle ray was found Monday in Indian River Lagoon, east of Orlando, and marine activists quickly stepped in to help and keep it safe.
While not endangered, spotted eagle rays are protected in Florida, according to the Florida Wildlife Commission.
And activists said it was unusual for the ray to be in Indian River Lagoon, rather than the warmer waters along the coast.
Exactly what is wrong with the ray wasn't immediately known. However, because it kept swimming in circles, that indicates something wasn't right.
To protect it for the night, helpers spent Monday afternoon building a temporary enclosure to keep the ray in a safe area and prevent it was swimming further out where people wouldn't be able to help.
"It was decided that the safest thing for the animal was to stay in the river. However, being overnight, it could drift out. It could be lost and then we wouldn’t be able to help it," said Wild Florida Rescue co-founder Heather Pepe.
On Tuesday, a veterinarian will visit the river to check on the ray.
"They’re not endangered, but they are becoming very quickly threatened so they are protected here in Florida," said Pepe.
The spotted eagle ray is similar to a manta ray.