Saving the manatees

4:07 PM, Mar 15, 2013   |    comments
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HOMOSASSA SPRINGS, Florida (WFLA) -- Red tide is killing a record number of manatees in Florida this year.

That number has climbed to 181 already.

But rescue groups are doing everything they can to save manatees that have been exposed to the deadly toxin.

And for some, there is a happy ending.

These manatees had a long trip in a truck traveling from Tampa to Citrus County.

And if you've ever imagined what it's like getting a manatee out of a truck-- well, it isn't easy.

But they've got it down at the Homosassa springs wildlife state park

"We've been in the manatee business here at this park for the past 30 years."

These four had to be lifted down, and then hoisted up by a crane, before finally being lowered down into a pool outside the main spring.

"Some of these manatees are over 880 pounds, over 900, so that's the easiest way to transport them down into the pool," said Art Yerian park manager.

The manatees quickly swam out into the spring.

All four were all rescued from lee county Florida, where red tide is killing them in record numbers.

They spent weeks recovering at the Lowry park zoo critical care facility.

Red tide paralyzes manatees.

Their heads have to be held above water so they can breathe. Or else they drowned.

The manatees seem content to float around the spring, and they'll have plenty of company.

The manatee release drew quite a crowd.

People eager to see the manatees that have been saved.

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