FWC rescues mother manatee & calf trapped in Citrus County ditch

Citrus County Sheriff's Office photo

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla.  (WFLA) – They are the gentle giants of the Florida waters, but against the wrath of Hurricane Hermine, several manatees didn’t fare so well.

Hurricane Hermine left a mother manatee and her calf in a ditch. Someone spotted them and called for help. Rescuers were able to carefully use nets to hoist the animals out of that ditch Wednesday.

“We could see that it was a manatee,” John Hartong of Crystal River, said. “They had it out of the water.  They had it on a sling of some sort.”

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission crews and volunteers took the two manatees to the open waters of Kings Bay. “My thought there was, ‘How in the dickens did it get in that ditch?’” Hartong said.

Other manatees still need to be rescued

Unfortunately, they aren’t the only manatees that need to be rescued. Four manatees are stranded in a pond at the Plantation Golf Course in Crystal River.

“It’s a bigger job than they planned,” said Doc Twiner who works at the golf course. The manatees are near the 18th hole.

The manatees are OK for now because there is plenty of vegetation in the pond.

“The fish and game people say it’s literally wonderful for them,” Twiner said. “There’s plenty of food.  It’s fresh water rather than brackish water.  And they’re in no hurry to get them out.  They say they’re not in any danger.”

Discover Crystal River Florida photos
Discover Crystal River Florida photos

Twiner watched as FWC crews tried to rescue the manatees Wednesday. They were unable to do so because they needed more people and more equipment. It could be several days before the manatees are rescued.

Discover Crystal River Florida photos
Discover Crystal River Florida photos

FWC crews are expected to head back out to Crystal River next week to rescue the remaining manatee.

Fortunately, it’s not a race against the clock.

That’s a good thing for the people who live in Crystal River. People come from all over the world to see the special creatures.

“This is one of the few places in the world where man is allowed to interact with manatees,” said Janet DeRosa, of Crystal River. “We have a lot of people out watching to make sure people don’t abuse them.”

“It’s one of the, one of the last draws to Crystal River,” Hartong said.

It’s a last draw that folks will protect at any price.

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