Residents rescue manatees stranded by Irma

East County's Nina Toby James and Noah Klepek gather their belongings before entering an emergency shelter at Carlos E. Haile Middle School

However, bays and canals drained by Hurricane Irma's intense storm system were exactly the threats facing Florida's aquatic wildlife over the weekend, including manatees.

Some of those stunned and curious residents walked into the vast patches of sand and underwater growth that used to be the bay-a unsafe thing to do, given the water would rush back.

Several people posted photos of the animals that were stuck on the shore Sunday during an usually low tide created just before the hurricane made its way up the Florida coast and slammed into the Sarasota region.

Thanks to their quick thinking, the manatees, caught in the sudden and brutal effects of Irma, were able to swim away from their predicament unscathed.

"I 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" he said.

Rescuers trudged through several inches of mud to load the hefty manatees onto tarps and dragged them to deeper water, witnesses said.

A line of evacuees wait for food at the Braden River High School emergency shelter
A line of evacuees wait for food at the Braden River High School emergency shelter

"One wasn't moving, the other was breathing and had water in its eyes".

He gave the manatees water to help, he wrote.

"We're not actually intervening at this point", Gordon said.

By the time it reached Manatee County late Sunday, it had been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane.

The Bradenton Herald said that people should not attempt to move manatees themselves because they are protected at the state and federal levels.

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