By Kristen E. Strubberg Editor-in-Chief
It all began on a “hunch”. Florida Wildlife agent Ann Spellman suspected the warmer water in a large storm drain located on Satellite Beach might attract manatees as local waters had cooled due to several cold fronts. Unfortunately, the nineteen manatees she discovered – a gathering of adults and calves – had become stuck in the culvert. A rescue effort immediately began…
but moving the large mammals presented many challenges. In the end it took a coalition the of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, local police and firefighters, and the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team to free the gentle giants. They drilled into the culvert and removed the manatees, some being redirected out of the culvert while others were lifted out using large slings. Once freed from the drain, the manatees were given time to recover (they are able to survive outside of water for long periods of time) before being released into the Indian River lagoon. Watch this amazing video of the rescue below (from Associated Press):
Following the rescue a temporary structure was placed in front of the drain to prevent other manatees from becoming trapped.