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Stranded Manatee Rescued from St. Petersburg Spillway

Jun 11, 2014 03:04 PM EDT

Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute crews this morning rescued a manatee that had been stranded in a St. Petersburg, Fla. spillway for nearly two weeks.

Officials from Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission gave the manatee a few days to leave the spillway, located in a small pond northeast of Clam Bayou, before intervening, the Associated Press reported.

Rescuers sectioned off parts of the pond to try to corral and capture the manatee, which has been stranded since at least May 31, according to Commission outreach coordinator Kelly Richmond.

"This is the most action we've had in this place," Ether Horsely, 46, who lives in the neighborhood, told The St. Petersburg Tribune as she watched about a dozen workers try to reel in the manatee with nets. "We always get an alligator."

Around noon, crews were finally pulled in the manatee from the spillway, at 27th Avenue South and 38th Street.

An onlooker first noticed the mammal on May 31, trying and failing to get back to the bayou. He flagged down St. Petersburg police Officer Courtney Zack.

"It's so cute," the officer told the Tampa Bay Times. "He was trying to get over a wall but for whatever reason he keeps getting scared."

When rescuers first caught the 1,000-pound, 8-9-foot long manatee, they conducted a brief medical exam and determined that the marine creature was in good health -though he had lots of scarring on his back, no doubt from boat propellers.

A team of about a dozen workers, after hauling the male critter onto their transport van, thought twice about releasing him back into Clam Bayou, for fear that he'd cross the spillway again and trap himself in the pond.

Instead, they carried the manatee about 10 feet into the water from the boat ramp at Maximo Park, where it happily splashed, free at last.

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