FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -

Frolicking manatees along Fort Lauderdale's shoreline drew a large crowd of curious onlookers Sunday.

UNCUT VIDEO: Manatees on the beach

At least five manatees were spotted swimming along the shoreline Sunday.

"When I looked in the water, I saw shadows," said beachgoer Gina Hossack.

"I thought it was seaweed, and then they raised their snouts," said Gina Hossack's husband, Craig Hossack.

Craig Hossack grabbed his cellphone and started recording video.

"This is awesome. You don't get to see this every day. It was pretty amazing. And for them to be so close, that's what really took me by surprise," Craig Hossack said.

Lifeguards worked to keep beachgoers away from the sea cows for the safety of both the people and the animals.

The manatees skirted the shoreline for about 30 minutes.

"It was like they enjoyed the audience," Gina Hossack said. "The lifeguards tried to keep everyone back because everyone just wanted to be a part of it and touch them and be with them. It was pretty amazing."

The large aquatic mammals are an endangered species, so touching them is not allowed, despite their reputation for being gentle giants. The Hossacks kept their distance.

"That, for me, was like a gift, because who gets to see that?" Gina Hossack said. "That was like a miracle to see something like that. It was beautiful."

Manatees prefer shallow water, although encounters with the 1,300-pound mammals along the edge of the ocean are rare because they need to be near fresh water to survive.

As for Craig Hossack, he knows that future trips to the beach may not be as exciting.

"That will never happen again in my lifetime," Craig Hossack said.

REWIND: Another manatee encounter