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'Great Manatee Chase' has a happy ending

It wasn't quite like a rescue from a burning building, but it might have been just as important for a certain manatee that was pulled from the Lake Seminole Bypass Canal in mid Pinellas last week.

The manatee apparently came over the wall at the south end of the canal during the high tide of one of this summer's storms. When the tide went down, the mammal couldn't get back over the barrier.

The problem: When the water dropped below 65 degrees, as it surely would this winter, the manatee's health would be endangered.

Enter Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission authorities. Their job was to capture the manatee and release it into warmer waters.

For two months, residents along the canal had spotted the manatee periodically, but by the time authorities reached the scene, it was always gone — until Monday.

When the manatee was spotted this time, a boat tracked it until help could arrive and the rescue plan was put in motion.

The 9 1/2-foot, 800-pound animal was trapped in a net and pulled to shore, where it was loaded into a truck and received minor medical treatment. Then it was driven 9 miles to a boat ramp at the War Veterans' Memorial Park near Bay Pines VA Medical Center and released into Boca Ciega Bay.

By the numbers

9-10 Average length, in feet, of an adult manatee.

800-1,200 Average weight, in pounds, of an adult manatee.

10-15 Percent of its body weight a manatee can consume daily in vegetation.

20 Number of minutes a manatee can stay submerged when resting.

Source: Save the Manatee Club

'Great Manatee Chase' has a happy ending 11/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 10, 2008 1:00pm]
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