Community rallies to rescue manatees stranded by Irma

By Ben Hooper  |  Sept. 11, 2017 at 9:01 AM
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Sept. 11 (UPI) -- A pair of manatees stranded in the mud when Hurricane Irma brought unusually low tides to Florida's Sarasota Bay were rescued by sheriff's deputies and concerned residents.

Residents in the Sarasota area posted photos on social media Sunday showing a pair of manatees that had been beached when the oncoming Hurricane Irma caused the tide to recede in advance of its arrival in the area.

"One wasn't moving, the other was breathing and had water in its eyes. My friends and I couldn't move these massive animals ourselves, and we called every service we could think of, but no one answered," witness Michael Sechler wrote in an Instagram post with a photo of the stranded manatees.

"We gave them as much water as we could, hoping the rain and storm surge come soon enough to save them," he wrote.

The manatees didn't have to wait for the rain and storm surge, however, as a large group of animal lovers gathered to roll the massive manatees onto tarps and drag them about 100 yards through knee-deep mud to reach the water.

Marcelo Clavijo posted photos and videos to Facebook showing members of the community and two deputies with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office -- identified by the department's official Twitter account as Deputies Mizner and Hart -- helping the manatees reach the water.

"It was a pretty cool experience," Clavijo wrote. "Now back to reality of a hurricane coming."

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