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Rescuers work to free manatees trapped in Florida storm drain

Cold temperatures prompted the manatees to seek warmer water.

By Kate Stanton

SATELLITE, Fla., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Emergency crews in Satellite Beach, Fla., worked to free more than a dozen manatees stuck in large stormwater pipe Monday night.

Officials said that the manatees probably followed one another to the drain in search of warmer water.

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"It's been cold lately and these canals are all filled with manatees,'' Satellite Beach Fire Chief Don Hughes told Florida Today. "I wouldn't even begin to venture a guess as to how they got into the drainage pipes. They will go wherever there's warm water."

The rescue team, including officials from local fire and police departments, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and SeaWorld, were able to push several manatees back out into the canal. Others were pulled from the pipe using slings attached to earth-moving vehicles.

Manatees are curious animals, according to marine biologist Anne Spelman.

"We've had this happen before where they follow a fresh-water pipe," Spelman told WFTV. "Pipes get smaller, the manatees get stuck. They're not real good at going backward and we usually have to go in and get them."

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With expected rainfall on the way, authorities said it was imperative that they force the animals out of the drain to prevent them from drowning.

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