STUART, FL (KTRK) --Amid the algae bloom plaguing Florida waters, one family tried to help a distressed manatee after it drifted into their backyard canal.
A state of emergency has been declared in four South Florida counties due to the excessive algae bloom, which experts say may excrete toxic discharges.
RELATED: 'Vile' Algae as Thick as 'Pea Soup' Clogs Up Florida's Waterways
"My family and I spotted a manatee struggling out behind our house in the canal," Mascia Palas wrote in a viral Facebook post. "It clearly was in search of fresh water."
Palas was shocked to find that a manatee had found its way into their canal, since neither she nor her neighbors have ever seen one in the area.
"We went out and took our masks with us," she said. "We looked for a while and it looked like it was struggling to clear its airway."
In an attempt to give the mammal a break from the algae, Palas retrieved the family's garden hose and created a shower of clean water that drew the manatee to the surface.
Her husband filmed the encounter. The video garnered nearly 1 million views on Facebook and over 25,000 shares, and depicts the environmental impact of the algae bloom.
"As soon as my husband put the hose over the 'muck,' the manatee popped out of the water and started drinking water like never before," Palas said. "It was clear this mammal had not had water in a long time. You could see all the green algae coming out of its nose."
Some have criticized the Palas family for disturbing wildlife, and said she should have left the animal alone.
"I would never for no good reason bother a beautiful manatee, invade its space, feed it, or anything of the sort," Mascia Palas responded in another Facebook post.
The blue-green alga blocks oxygen from entering the water and also excretes toxins. Fish and other marine life are expected to be harmed.
"I live on the water and I can't even go out by back door. It smells vile," said Chris Palas "It is just horrible. It is just horrendous. It looks like pea soup. It is just not at the surface. It is deep."
Gov. Scott issued an executive order on Wednesday to address the algae problem, saying in a statement, "Florida's waterways, wildlife and families have been severely impacted by the inaction and negligence of the federal government not making the needed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike and Florida can no longer afford to wait."
Scott added that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "continues to discharge millions of gallons of water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries resulting in the growth of blue-green algae," and blamed the Obama administration's inaction.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville announced it would reduce the amount of freshwater flowing from Lake Okeechobee starting today.