OLDSMAR, Fla. — Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said three manatees became trapped in a retention pond on Tuesday after higher than normal tides from Hurricane Michael.
"You've got the top of the bay here which is really attractive to them. When we get some surges or high tides, they come over the control structure and get into the pond. Luckily, we have people out here all the time, monitoring it and check it," said Mayor Doug Bevis.
"These manatees need to get out or our job is not done until they're out," said Martine deWit, a veterinarian with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Rescue crews with FWC and Clearwater Marine Aquarium worked to rescue and relocate the three manatees in a pond within the Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve in Oldsmar. Volunteers also assisted.
Crews used a net to try and trap the manatees.
"Manatees are smart. They will test their way out," said deWit.
ABC Action News was there as biologists rescued the third manatee. Biologists waited until the manatee surfaced for air to make a move. Crews would adjust the net after seeing the manatee surface.
"Just got to have patience and wait for the right moment and keep on trying," said deWit.
Crews captured the manatee after more than three hours.
Biologists took blood samples, measurements and tagged it with a microchip.
"Once they are adjusted to the gravity, they are usually pretty calm and let us do the exam," said deWit.
The female manatee was healthy and released into Old Tampa Bay. The other two manatees were also released on Tuesday.
FWC officials said the manatees would not have survived in the retention pond.
"Once the temperatures start cooling off, it will be too cold for the manatees to stay in there. They need to migrate to warmer waters," said deWit.
FWC received information about these manatees through the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline (888-404-3922).
The public is encouraged to report sick, injured, or dead manatees to the FWC.