Hurricane Irma: Stranded manatees saved after storm 'sucks sea away from shore'

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Two manatees were left stranded on a beach in Florida after Hurricane Irma pulled the water away from the shore.

The deadly superstorm, which was at one point the Atlantic Ocean’s most powerful ever hurricane, dried up parts of a bay north of Sarasota in Florida.

The two manatees became stranded in mud on a beach in the aptly named Manatee County and were spotted by passers-by who alerted officials.

“Went out to the bay and saw two objects out where the water receded, so we took off our shoes and walked out through the shells to find two beached manatees,” said Michael Sechler.

“One wasn’t moving, the other was breathing and had water in its eyes. My friends and I couldn’t move these massive animals ourselves and we called every service we could think of, but no one answered.

“We gave them as much water as we could, hoping the rain and storm surge come soon enough to save them.”

Another Floridian, Marcelo Clavijo, described how he and a “handful” of other people helped drag the stranded animals back into the water.

Mr Clavijo, who took a trip to the bay after becoming “a lil stir crazy” from the storm, wrote on Facebook: “The tide was sucking the bay dry which stranded two manatees on the flats.”

He and a group of others, including local residents and law enforcement officials, loaded the beasts onto tarpaulin and moved them to safety in the bay in Whitfield.

“It was a pretty cool experience,” he said. “We rolled them on the tarp and then dragged them a 100 yards, it was crazy.”

He added: “Now back to reality of a hurricane coming.”

The rare phenomenon of shorelines draining water is often seen during hurricanes, as the seawater is sucked into the core of the storm before returning in the days to come.

Manatees are marine animals often popular with tourists to Florida because of their typically gentle nature.

They are often found in slow-moving rivers and bays. Along the coast the animals tend to swim in water which is three to five meters deep.

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