Part of the unforeseen effects of Hurricane Irma was the complete opposite of a storm surge. Many coastal areas away from the storm saw the water level drop. This disappearance of the water left many people confused, as they were expecting flooding, but it also left some of the local marine life stranded.
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These manatees were stranded when Irma’s storm surge pulled water away from the shore in Tampa Bay, Sunday. Luckily for them, there was a group of locals willing to brave the winds to come to their rescue.
Resident Michael Sechler chronicled the rescue on Facebook. When he saw the shapes out in the mud flats of the bay, he went to investigate. “So we took off our shoes and walked out through the shells to find two beached manatees,” Sechler wrote.
Manatees, though, are large animals. “Believe me, we tried to move them,” Sechler wrote. “But between [the manatees] weighing over 500lbs and being stranded in almost mud-like sand, we couldn’t make it happen.”
Another group brought a tarp and some wood.
Marcelo Clavijo posted a video on Facebook showing the improvised team tending to the beached animals. “We rolled them on the tarp and then dragged them a 100 yards it was crazy,” Clavijo said. “Now back to reality of a hurricane coming #manateelivesmatter,” he added.
The incidents marked an optimistic note in what has been a chaotic two weeks of hurricane coverage. The manatee rescue will not be the last act of kindness humans show animals during the storm, and the stories of humans helping other humans will surely follow.