Dawn McCartney was snorkeling by Redington Shores with her two daughters on Sunday, her eyes scanning the water for shells. Instead, she found a 2-inch seahorse trapped in a tangle of trash, fishing line and rope.
The Redington Shores resident, who has been visiting rescued animals at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for years, knew what to do. She carefully unwrapped the fishing line looped around the seahorse's neck. Then she scooped the animal into a plastic bottle filled with ocean water and called the aquarium.
The female lined seahorse has been at the aquarium since her rescue as her swimming and eating are monitored. She's also been given a name: Frito.
Last year, the aquarium rescued, rehabbed and released two other seahorses. The first was Cheeto, a bright orange seahorse that was plucked from the water by a hungry seagull before being spit out onto Indian Shores Beach next to a little girl and her mother. Next came Funyun, a female seahorse that suffered from buoyancy issues and was found stranded on Indian Rocks Beach.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium plans to release Frito back into the wild after she recovers. In the meantime, you can watch her progress on the FritoCam, on the aquarium's website.