Manatees landlocked after rising flood waters recede

Tropical Storm Debby displaced manatees

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. - One could call it a labor of love, but for a team of Florida Fish and Wildlife biologists, rescuing manatees trapped by Tropical Storm Debby is part of the job.

"They actually opened the water-control structure and these animals got inside," said FWC Biologist Andy Garrett.

Lake Tarpon can support manatees, but the FWC said it is a dangerous area for the mammals.

"Since it is landlocked, the manatees are not normally in there.  Because of boating activity, there is a potential for a boat to hit a manatee and not know it," he said.

The process can be grueling for both the manatee and the rescue team. Calls alert the team about displaced manatees. The team then tacks, captures then re-release the animals in a safer area.

"We keep them wet and very comfortable until we can get them back in the water," said Garrett.

The manatee the team rescued Friday afternoon weighed in at more than 1800 pounds. At one point during the rescue the Manatee almost put the FWC boat under.  Garrett quickly jumped off to counter the boat's weight.

"That rescue is one for the resumes," said Tarpon Fire Rescue Deputy Chief, Donald Sayre.

Between calls, Tarpon Fire Rescue helped relocate the manatee five minutes away at Craig Park Boatway.

"It is a unique experience and hopefully it is a positive one," said Sayre.

The FWC sad the rescue will stay fresh in their memory because this manatee was special.

"The manatee appeared to be very pregnant and about ready to give birth. We tried to act very quickly and get it out," said Garrett.

The FWC said they will be back rescuing more manatees in the area on Monday, but if you spot a manatee in a landlocked area they ask viewers to take a picture and immediately call 1-888-404-3922.

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