Two manatees drown in golf course pond after hurricane damage destroyed land barrier

Two manatees drowned this week at a golf course pond in Crystal River. The mother and calf were able to access the golf course by a land bridge that was destroyed during Hurricane Irma. 

Fish and Wildlife officials say the two manatees, a mother and calf, drowned in a pond at the Plantation on Crystal River golf course on Sunday.

Golf course general manager Michael Mancke says he is heart broken by the news.

"We love them. We stop and we see them and you can’t help but feel great when you see them and anything like that to not be with us anymore is terrible." 

And this isn’t the first time a hurricane has caused manatees to get stuck in the the golf course pond that is separated from the river leading out to the gulf by a land bridge. 

Mancke said, "Ironically when we had Hurricane Hermine, the water was raised so high that they swam over the bridge." 

Seven manatees were rescued from the same pond last year.   

Mancke says the golf course is working with wildlife officials to open the land bridge and prevent anymore accidents from happening. They're hoping to make the manatee problem, a manatee habitat.

Mancke said, "They’re looking at this being a permanent winter sanctuary opportunity for the manatees. We do have a number of freshwater springs that provide 72 degree water."  

Fish and wildlife are still investigating what led up to the mother and her calf drowning in the pond but they say drownings are a common cause of death for the mammals.  

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