Manatees rescued from Cooper River

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North Charleston,SC(WCBD)–As water temperatures in the low country decrease, manatees typically migrate to warmer places, but officials say they began hearing reports last month about a few that didn’t get the memo.

As many as 5 manatees were seen hanging out in the Cooper River outside of the Kapstone plant in North Charleston. The energy from the plant keeps the waters warm.

On Thursday, a massive rescue effort was begun to remove the nearly 1300 pound mammals before they die. Before noon two were removed, loaded into a truck and taken to Florida. The attempt to remove the other 3 is still on going.

The rescue effort was planned for a week. Several organizations including USFWS, NOAA and Seaworld were involved.

Jennifer Koches with USFWS says that this would be one of the last opportunities. The manatees would not survive much longer.

Koches says they don’t know specifically why the animals stayed, but she says there are several things that may factor in. Unusually high temperatures in the month of November could have encouraged them not to leave. There is also the possibility that habits were changed by interactions with humans feeding them and giving them fresh water, a practice that is illegal.

Feeding could encourage the mammal to move toward highly populated areas where boating accidents or fishing accidents could occur. It could also convince them to stick around much longer than they should.

If you see a manatee in during cool months of the year, you can report it directly to DNR. That link can be found at: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine.html

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