And finally… Construction equipment used in Florida manatee rescue

Local authorities and animal rescue teams worked for hours this week to rescue 19 manatees who swam into a Florida storm drain and were trapped.

The rescue effort captured national attention as crews removed drain covers and used construction equipment, fire engines and even a truck ladder to rescue the manatees trapped in the city’s drainage system. Rescuers worked through the night using fire truck headlights to see. A sling attached to a backhoe was used to lift many manatees out of the drain. The drain pipe also had to be cut.

The last of the giant marine mammals was pulled from the drainage pipe just after 1:45 am Tuesday (local time).

Rescuers said manatee No. 15 was one of the largest and nearly fell back into the pipe when lifted out. Manatee No. 13 started thrashing during rescue efforts, almost knocking down a rescuer. No. 16 was described as a “feisty one” as well.

Each manatee was taken into awaiting box trucks where Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials checked them for cold stress. Some of the manatees had bruises and scrapes from contact with the drainage infrastructure, but no serious injuries were reported, according to Florida Today.

FWC officials said the manatees swam into the drain from the Indian River Lagoon searching for fresh, warm water since cold weather has caused dangerously low water temperatures. The marine mammals are known to congregate in the Satellite Beach shoreline canals when the water temperature drops.

“It’s been cold lately and these canals are all filled with manatees,” Satellite Beach Fire Chief Don Hughes said. “I wouldn’t even begin to venture a guess as to how they got into the drainage pipes. They will go wherever there’s warm water.”

After rescuers left with the manatees early Tuesday morning, power and construction crews arrived on scene to make repairs.

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