This week 19 manatees were rescued after swimming into the city’s water drainage system. It’s likely they were attracted to the drains by extra warmth they could find there and followed one another in. The removal of the manatees required significant effort (and a small crane and large sling) considering they can weigh between 800 and 1200 pounds. All were removed, allowed to rest, and then transported by truck back to a safe waterway with a few bruises and scrapes. The drains were inspected with the help of firefighters, SeaWorld employees and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Rescue video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbmrHcEG3vk
Manatees are an endangered species with a population of only about 4,831 individuals living in Florida (January 2014). During the winter, manatees migrate to warmer areas for refuge and often congregate in large groups. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission 1 manatee has already been killed from being caught in a flood gate or canal lock and 67 manatee deaths have been recorded so far in 2015. (http://myfwc.com/media/2970595/YearToDate.pdf)