After several months of rehabilitation, four sub-adult manatees made the trip from the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue and Rehab Facility to the Canaveral National Seashore.
Three of the four manatees were rescued in December of 2012 and all of them were rescued in Brevard County waters.
"They had been trapped in a mosquito embankment in the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge area and they also suffered from some mild cold stress. The fourth animal was rescued in March of this year and was having some buoyancy issues," said Pedro Ramos-Nevarrete, the supervisor of animal care at SeaWorld Orlando.
The journey started Thursday morning at the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue and Rehab Facility. Animal Rescue staff used a crane to lift the animals out of their rehabilitation pool and into the back of two rescue vehicles. Then, they arrived at Eddy Creek and with the help of several rescue staff members and Local 6's General Manager, Skip Valet, the animals were unloaded and ready to return into their natural environment.
"They try and pick an area that is familiar to the animal. It may not be the exact same location, but it's in the same system that they would be familiar with. So for them it is somewhere they can would be able to find food and things like that." said Ramos-Nevarrete said.
For Ramos-Nevarrete, returning the four manatees was a bittersweet moment.
"You're happy that they're going back out to where they belong, but you kind of have this attachment and you wish them well. You really don't want to see them again because if you do that means that they got in trouble again," said Ramos-Navarrete.
The four manatees that were returned today makes seven rescued and returned this year.