SATELLITE BEACH (CBSMiami) – An unusual rescue in Central Florida has saved the lives of 19 manatees.
The manatees became lodged in a large drainage pipe near Cape Canaveral. They were spotted by a marine biologist.
Neighbors had seen the mammals as well.
"This morning I saw about ten of them go back through out, and then a little later I saw about another five or ten go out, so I thought they were coming in and going out, and didn't think anything of it until this," said one neighbor.
The manatees were apparently trying to reach warmer water when they got stuck; they're known to congregate in beachside canals in cold weather.
A manatee-rescue team from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, along with police and firefighters, brought heavy earth-moving equipment to the Satellite Beach neighborhood, located on a barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean.
One by one, each manatee was carefully pulled to safety. The final manatee was rescued just before 2:00 a.m., marking the end to a dedicated and delicate rescue effort.
Some had minor scratches but all of them survived and were returned to the Indian River Lagoon system.
Onlookers cheered as they were released.
"It was absolutely awesome. Got the whole community out here, all the various agencies working together and then to have the final one come out that was awesome."
Florida manatees are listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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