Rescuers in Florida free 19 manatees stuck in storm drain

Crowds gathered near the west end of Cassia St in Satellite Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, to watch Sea World, FWC, Satellite Fire Dept and public works work to save manatees stuck in a drainage pipe. They thought there were 15 manatees in danger. (AP Photo/Florida Today, Malcolm Denemark)

SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Rescuers working late into the night freed 19 manatees that were stuck in a storm drain in Florida.

Capt. Jay Dragon of the Satellite Beach Fire Department said early Tuesday that the 19 manatees were all alive and were returned to the Indian River Lagoon System.

A manatee-rescue team from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, along with police and firefighters, were helping the marine mammals Monday evening. Rescuers brought heavy earth-moving equipment to the Satellite Beach neighborhood, located on a barrier island on Florida’s central Atlantic Coast near Cape Canaveral.

Crowds gathered near the west end of Cassia St in Satellite Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, to watch Sea World, FWC, Satellite Fire Dept  and public works work to save manatees stuck in a drainage pipe. They thought there were 15 manatees in danger.  (AP Photo/Florida Today, Malcolm Denemark)
Crowds gathered near the west end of Cassia St in Satellite Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, to watch Sea World, FWC, Satellite Fire Dept and public works work to save manatees stuck in a drainage pipe. They thought there were 15 manatees in danger. (AP Photo/Florida Today, Malcolm Denemark)

Authorities initially said there were as many as 15 manatees stuck in the drain.

FWC Research Institute spokesman Brandon Basino said it is unclear exactly how the manatees became stuck, but noted that there was no grate on the storm drain. However, he added that manatees typically seek out warm habitats for the winter months.

“They’re also curious animals, so there are a number of reasons they could have swam up there,” Basino said. “We’re still looking up how long they have been in the drainage system and working with the city to resolve the issue.”

In the meantime, a temporary structure has been placed on the storm drain to prevent other manatees from swimming into it.

Basino said while the rescue was a lengthy process that manatees are able to survive out of water for extended periods of time. He added that the moist, dark and cooler temperatures at night were “factors working in our favor.”

When they were released, all of the manatees were marked on their backs with a grease pen. The non-toxic markers will allow FWC biologists to identify the rescued manatees when they check on their conditions.

WISHTV.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s