(SATELLITE BEACH, Fla.) — Rescuers were working Monday night to free a group of manatees stuck in a mass stranding in a storm drain in Satellite Beach, Florida.
Crews from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Satellite Beach Fire Department and Police Department and city utilities were working to access the culverts where the marine mammals were trapped, so that a team from Sea World could lift them out and release them back into the water, officials said.
Approximately three hours after the effort began, six of the manatees had been freed.
The rescue effort was expected to last through the night. With rain in the forecast, there was concern that the animals stuck in the drain could drown if the culvert were to fill with water.
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Manatees, which are very curious, occasionally swim into storm drains, but because the culvert gradually narrows, some larger animals can get wedged and stuck, according to Ann Spellman, a marine biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Even if only one gets physically wedged in the pipe, any others following it can’t get out, because they cannot swim backwards and don’t have room to turn around.
After the mass stranding was discovered Monday night, the city installed grates on the mouth of the culverts in the area to prevent any other manatees from swimming in.
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