PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Two Pinellas County deputies saved an “exhausted” manatee’s life by standing in the water and holding its head above the surface for two hours until help arrived.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said the manatee stayed at the surface and had labored breathing. They said the animal was attempting to beach itself on rocks to keep from drowning.

“This manatee is going to die right in front of us and I’m not letting that happen!,” Deputy Jill Constant said. “We docked the boat, I took off my equipment and got in. We stayed in the water for two hours holding its head up until it could be rescued.”

However, the pair said as soon as the manatee began regaining its strength, it started fighting against the deputies, thrashing in the water until Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) arrived.

FWC biologists said the manatee is expected to make a full recovery.