ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Members of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team traveled to Charleston, S.C. this past week, where -- along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources - they helped save several wayward manatees.
The manatees were spotted in the upper reaches of the Cooper River, near a warm water outflow area by the KapStone paper mill. Due to dropping water temperatures in the river, the manatees remained close to the warm water outflow, isolating them from adequate food sources and the naturally warm waters they need.
The rescue operation took place over two days. Two adult manatees, a male and a female, were successfully rescued on Thursday, December 8 after hours of searching. They were deemed healthy and transported back to Florida where they were returned back to the wild in Brevard County near Port St. John around 9 p.m. by a team from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The team started again the following day, successfully locating and rescuing two male manatees. They were also healthy animals and returned in Florida waters on Friday evening around 6PM, also at Port St. John, by staff from Sea World and FWC's Melbourne field office. The larger of the two males was tagged by staff from Sea to Shore Alliance.
A fifth manatee was spotted in the area but attempts to locate that animal were not successful.