Cheeto the sea horse almost became a snack. Now read about Funyun

Clearwater Marine Aquarium's Don Stansell wades to a grass flat to release “Funyun” on Monday. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
Clearwater Marine Aquarium's Don Stansell wades to a grass flat to release “Funyun” on Monday.JIM DAMASKE | Times
Published June 13 2017
Updated June 13 2017

CLEARWATER — A sea horse called Funyun was released into the wild Monday after tourists found her washed up in the sands of Indian Rocks Beach.

But first, there was Cheeto.

Last month, a mom and daughter spied a seagull with a small, orange item in its mouth. When the bird dropped its unappetizing catch, the pair realized it was a sea horse.

Veterinarians from Clearwater Marine Aquarium nursed Cheeto — who had gained Internet fame and her own "Cheeto Cam" — back to health, and released the sea horse on May 16.

Less than two weeks later, two women from Ohio were looking for seashells when they noticed something small and gray washed up on the sand: another stranded sea horse. As they searched the Internet for a rescue center, they discovered Cheeto's story and quickly called the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Funyun suffered a buoyancy issue. She struggled to swim and clung to a branch to stop from floating to the surface, making eating difficult. Veterinarians determined there was excess air in her swim bladder, and removed it with a small needle.

Funyun was released Monday in a grass flat known to harbor other sea horses.

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