Stranded manatees rescued in Sarasota before Irma hits

East County's Nina Toby James and Noah Klepek gather their belongings before entering an emergency shelter at Carlos E. Haile Middle School

A group of locals are being hailed as heroes for coming to the rescue of a pair of manatees left stranded and running out of time after Hurricane Irma drained the waterways around Tampa Bay, Florida on Sunday.

Of all the destructive impacts of a hurricane, with its life-threatening storm surges and massive flooding, the sudden lack of aquatic habitat is not a typical concern.

The friends tried to clear mud away from one of the animal's face and tried to fill the small area with water.

A man named Michael Sechler wrote on Facebook that he and his friends spotted two manatees stranded near Sarasota.

Manatee County resident Marcelo Clavijo posted on Facebook he was going stir-crazy and made a decision to go for a ride when he came across a dry bay.

Marcelo Clavijo, who joined in on the rescue mission, said: "It was a pretty cool experience".

A line of evacuees wait for food at the Braden River High School emergency shelter
A line of evacuees wait for food at the Braden River High School emergency shelter

"It was a pretty cool experience, we rolled them on the tarp and then dragged them a 100 yards it was insane, now back to reality of a hurricane coming", wrote Marcelo Clavijo. "We rolled them on the tarp and then dragged them a 100 [yards]".

He gave the manatees water to help, he wrote.

Yet "we couldn't just let those manatees die out there", Tony Faradini-Campos tells the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Gordon says it's not uncommon for the manatees to be tidally stranded and that it's better not to move them.

"By this time, people should have already completed most of their preparations and gotten out of the way", said Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane.




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