FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A one-and-a half year old manatee is resting and recovering after a complicated rescue from a Fort Lauderdale stormwater culvert.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue said the female manatee was stuck in a stormwater culvert located at 100 North New River Drive on Tuesday morning.
It’s not known how long the 255 lbs. female was trapped but after someone spotted her Monday, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) called in the troops to the rescue.
“We responded out. We brought out technical rescue team. Our confined space team, our fire boat, our divers in their suits, along with FWC, the public works and the police departments,” said Deputy Fire Chief Tim Heiser with Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.
Fire crews said they treated the call like it was a confined space rescue with a person, but used FWC’s expertise to figure out how to do this with a manatee.
Crews went down into the drain itself, wrapped the manatee up using special manatee rescue equipment.
“It was a little difficult at first. I would imagine that the manatee is not too familiar with human contact,” said Heiser.
Fire officials said she appeared tired and pretty scratched up.
Crews carried her to a waiting Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescue truck for transportation to Miami Seaquarium for rehab.
Those caring for her say by the time she got there, she was calm and even playful, sharing a pool with three other manatees who are also on the mend.
“She’s been grabbing lettuce heads from them,” said a Seaquarium employee who identified herself as Josie.