Trapped Manatees Rescued from Drainage Pipe

First published by CBS News , Feb 24, 2015 

SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. - Rescue workers and animal experts lifted 19 manatees from the Satellite Beach storm drain system in an operation that lasted from Monday afternoon into early Tuesday.

The workers used earth-moving equipment -- and a gentle touch.

All the rescued manatees were released back into the wild.

Officials said some 11 others apparently got out on their own.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission marine biologist Ann Spellman said she was acting on a hunch when she called city workers and asked them to check the drainage pipes Monday.

"They called by 3 p.m. to say they were there," said Spellman, watching as one of the manatees was released into a nearby pond.

Some of the manatees had scrapes and bruises after coming in contact with the concrete storm infrastructure. A calf and mother were among the first lifted out of the drain system.

Spellman said they likely followed one another from the nearby Indian River Lagoon.

Workers hoisted a smaller calf into the back of a truck. A large backhoe was used to lift the mammals. Emergency lights from fire trucks provided light for rescue workers.

Dozens of onlookers cheered as the massive animal was lifted clear with an earth-moving machine.

Ryan Heninger