Melbourne Community Comes Together to Rescue Manatees Trapped in Pond After Hurricane Irma

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Melbourne-RescueManatees-HurricaneIrma-bannerHurricane Irma battered Florida in early September, but nothing could stop locals from coming together to protect some of our state’s most precious creatures. That includes the rescue of 6 manatees found trapped in a backyard pond along Crane Creek.

Florida is well-known for its diverse eco-systems and wildlife, something locals fight hard to protect. In proof, on September 15, forty people showed up in Rene Alvarez’s backyard to help free 6 trapped manatees and return them to their natural habitat. Mr. Alvarez lives on Bignonia Street in Melbourne and works as a dentist in nearby Indialantic. He noticed the trapped sea cows after water levels receded following Hurricane Irma. Fallen trees had blocked off his backyard pond from neighboring water, virtually trapping the manatees.

Alvarez went to work calling local organizations in hopes someone could help the adorable and rather blubbery sea creatures to freedom. The FWC, SeaWorld Orlando, Brevard Zoo and the University of Florida, along with Melbourne police and other agencies all showed up in response to Alvarez’s call for help—now that’s how us Floridians come together!

Volunteers relied on a large net to capture the manatees and then safely pull them out of the water. You can imagine how many people it took to haul the 1,000 pound mammals out of the water. Volunteers lined up, each holding onto a portion of the net, and used their collective strength to pull the animals to safety.

Bill Greer of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation said they rescued a calf and its mother, along with three adults and one young manatee. While the 5-foot long calf wasn’t too much of a struggle to pull out, its mother, a much larger manatee, thrashed around a lot as volunteers aimed to haul her onshore.

“We’re working on capturing them, getting them up, doing a quick health assessment on them. And then the goal is to hopefully release them right back in the creek, as long as everything looks good during the health assessment,” said Greer.

Wildlife specialists and biologists were on the scene ready to care for the manatees as soon as they were retrieved from the pond and placed under the shaded protection of a white canopy. Before the manatees were released back into the wild, biologists assessed blood samples, fecal matter, and heart and breath rates to ensure they did not require additional care.

Joining Together to Protect & Rescue Animals in Melbourne, FL

Melbourne is home to many wild and domesticated animals. Hurricane or not, local organizations are always hard at work to protect and preserve local eco-systems and the animals that live here—wild or domesticated. According to Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade statistics, firefighting crews have arrived on scene to rescue over 160 animals over the last 18 months. Rescuers have found everything from a cat trapped in a washing machine to another cat trapped in a car engine. And that’s just firefighting crews—there are countless other organizations out there saving animal lives every day.

High community morale in Melbourne leads to greater care for one another, including our animal friends. Rain or shine, this community knows how to stick together and turn the impawsible into the possible. Now, that’s a community we are proud to be a part of.

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