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Massive 1,300-pound Manatee Rescued in South Carolina Lowcountry

Last week, members of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team traveled to the Charleston, South Carolina area to rescue a stranded manatee.

The roughly 11-foot long and 1,300-pound manatee was stranded in the Cooper River some 600 miles from where it normally winters near Port Everglades, Florida.

A rescue team from SeaWorld Orlando traveled to South Carolina to rescue the emaciated sea cow. State and federal marine mammal specialists were on hand to assist.

"It was showing signs of cold stress," said Jennifer Koches of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The crew captured the manatee below the Williams Power Station in Bushy Park. A second, smaller manatee was also spotted nearby.

Though signs were posted at boat landings along the river encouraging boaters to be on the lookout, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and SeaWorld staff think the commotion from rescuing the larger manatee may have caused the smaller one to migrate.

Each year, an estimated 50  manatees make their way to South Carolina, a dramatic increase compared to recent years.

When water temperatures dip below 70 degrees, the large marine mammals usually migrate back to Florida. Occasionally, some get stuck.

However, manatees can't survive for extended periods of time in temperatures lower than 68 degrees. Although the Lowcountry is experiencing an unseasonably warm winter, the water temperatures are well below that.

According to Jim Valade, Fish and Wildlife manatee rescue coordinator, the rescue was likely the first winter rescue to be made in the state.

The manatee is currently being treated at SeaWorld in Orlando. Koches expects it will be released back into the wild near its wintering waters.

A rescue of this size was no easy feat, and just one example of people working together for sake of animal conservation.

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Massive 1,300-pound Manatee Rescued in South Carolina Lowcountry