Manatee rescued from storm drain arrives at SeaWorld for rehab

Firefighters, FWC workers struggle for hours to free manatee

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter , Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor , Stacey Readout - Executive producer of digital strategy
Headline Goes Here

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A manatee rescued from a Jacksonville-area storm drain earlier on Wednesday is now at SeaWorld in Orlando for evaluation.

"I don't see any big wounds," said Dr. Stacy DiRocco, of Sea World Rescue. "She may have some scrapes and bruises, but manatees are just amazingly tough animals."

DiRocco said the manatee is a 950-pound female.

Firefighters and wildlife officials cut her out of a storm drain pipe in the middle of a busy neighborhood near the Ortega area of Jacksonville.

A city crew was doing work in the area around 8 a.m. Wednesday when the workers spotted the manatee.

Jacksonville Fire Rescue and Florida Fish and Wildlife worked for six hours to clear the way, so that the adult manatee could be pulled from the storm drain.

Residents held up signs naming the creature after their neighborhood and sending her well-wishes as she was transported to Orlando.

The manatee suffered scrapes on her nose.

At Sea World Wednesday night, a team of veterinarians and biologists used a large crane to lower the manatee into a tank where they gave her a thorough exam.

They checked her heart, checked to see if she had been micro-chipped, drew blood samples and gave her some fluids.

"No fractures, she's moving her paddle normally, her pecs look great," DiRocco said. "She's breathing well. Nothing that looks too severe to me. I'm actually really happy."

DiRocco said the manatee will likely stay at Sea World for a few days, possibly a week before it's released back into the wild.

She said a team at Sea World will determine where she will be released.

News 6 reporter Erik Sandoval was at SeaWorld waiting for the manatee's arrival.

Watch video of the manatee's arrival at SeaWorld below.

Copyright 2016 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.