-- A mother and baby manatee are happily back swimming in the wild after being rescued from a ditch alongside a Florida road following Hurricane Hermine.
In the aftermath of Hermine, the mother manatee and 2-year-old male calf were found in a water-filled ditch next to a road that had flooded with water, Kane Rigney, a manatee biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told ABC News.
“Someone was literally driving down the road and saw these two manatees stuck on the side of the road,” said Rigney, who helped with the rescue.
The ditch is on the opposite side of the road from the area's main body of water, he said.
"They were on the western side of the road, where the main water body is on the east side,” Rigney said. "What we suspect happened is that the water level rose [to] where it went over the top of the road, and the animals landed there after the hurricane.”
“They were still in about two feet of water" when rescuers arrived, Rigney said. “And they had about 100 feet north and south they could swim up and down. They weren’t just in a puddle, so it wasn’t terrible for them, however they still needed to be relocated.”
Rigney said the mother, who was still lactating, weighed about 1,400 pounds, and her calf weighed about 400 pounds. It took an entire team two hours to complete the rescue and release the animals into the waters of Crystal River, Florida.
“They were released about two miles away at a canal that leads straight up to Kings Bay where the Crystal River manatees hang out,” he said.
The entire rescue was “very successful,” Rigney proudly said.
“Any time we come across a situation like this where the animals are out of habitat and we can get them back into the water without taking up time or space in a rehab facility, it’s a successful day,” he explained.