CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - 10 wayward manatees are now safe after a coordinated rescue effort in the Cooper River near Charleston.
They were spotted in the upper Cooper River near a warm water outflow according to SeaWorld officials from Orlando who helped with the rescue. Historically, manatees move south into warm water when the water temperature drops below 68 degrees.
Rapidly falling water temperatures in the river kept the manatees close to the outflow instead of traveling south. This caused the manatees to be isolated from much needed food sources and warmer waters.
The operation to relocate the animals included officials from SeaWorld and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and took place over three days from Nov. 28-30. Eight males and two female manatees were captured from the river. Each manatee then received a health assessment from veterinary professionals and were transported south to Florida.
Nine of the manatees were deemed releasable near Brevard County, Fla. One female was kept at the Jacksonville Zoo at its critical care facility because she was exhibiting signs of mild cold stress. Officials say that manatee is now doing well.
The Sea to Shore Alliance also tagged five of the manatees before release and will monitor the animals as part of their atlantic coast manatee study.
The public is asked to report any manatee sightings online to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on their website.