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Flooding Pushes 7 Manatees Onto a Florida Golf Course

They got trapped for days in a water hazard.

Karen Parker/FWC

Strong storms wash lots of random stuff inland—plastic garbage, dock wood, unmoored boats. When Hurricane Hermine tore into Florida in early September, it was seven manatees that floated in on the tide, drifting like fat, leathery buoys into a Gulf Coast golf course’s water hazard.

There they stayed, trapped in the brownish pond, munching on aquatic weeds and blowing bubbles. That is, until yesterday, when rescue workers ended their limbo with nets and a free ride to open water. The whole process was documented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which has posted a wonderful photo series from the grounds of the Plantation on Crystal River golf course.

Karen Parker/FWC

The FWC writes on Facebook:

When Hurricane Hermine hit Florida’s Gulf Coast earlier this month, heavy rains produced flooding and caused several manatees to be displaced in a pond on a golf course in Crystal River. The manatees were first reported to the FWC on September 2, and their condition and food supply was subsequently assessed as relocation plans were developed. Those plans were put into action today as the FWC, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and other partners rescued seven manatees from a pond at the Plantation on Crystal River. Two of the manatees were a mother-calf pair. Once the manatees were moved out of the pond, they received health assessments before being released back into the wild.

The mother, for what it’s worth, tipped the scales at 1,840 pounds—about as heavy as a 6-by-12-foot U-Haul cargo trailer. Here are a few scenes from Thursday’s rescue. The third image leads to a Flickr video showing the difficult process of netting a big’un:

Video of Manatee Rescue

Karen Parker/FWC

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.