The manatees, in a canal near Miami International Airport, were reported by road workers engaged in construction that has blocked the canal, The Miami Herald reported. Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, said the canal was both shallow and dirty, putting the animals at risk of stranding.
"This was a mating herd that was trying to coerce the female into a position to mate with her, but she was trying to get away from the pursuing males and probably got tired and swam into the area," Pino said.
Environmental workers used a rope to disturb the canal, convincing the female to swim out. Once she was gone, the males quickly followed her.
Manatees mate year round but are more likely to do so in warm weather. Typically, they move into shallower water, including canals.
In one memorable episode in June 2009, nine males mated with a large broad-hipped female in full view of residents in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.