Hurricane Irma leaves manatees stranded in Manatee County

Hurricane Irma is the strongest storm to make landfall near Key West in 57 years.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hurricane Irma not only brought rain and dangerous wind speeds to Florida's Gulf Coast, but it displaced some of the area's marine mammals.

Manatee County resident Marcelo Clavijo posted on Facebook he was going stir-crazy and decided to go for a ride when he came across a dry bay. Then he spotted two stranded manatees.

He and a group of people, including law enforcement, were able to roll the bulky sea cows onto a tarp and drag them 100 yards to open water. 

"It was a pretty cool experience," Clavijo posted. 

The Facebook post has been liked more than 63,000 times and has more than 49,000 shares on the social media site.

While moving the manatees might have been well-intended, Brian Norris, a public information officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said people should not place themselves in danger to try to save marine wildlife during inclement weather.

"Obviously, in these conditions, it's not good to put your life at risk," Norris said. "Expect different animals and marine life will be displaced."

People who find marina animals in distress should call the FWC and report the sighting, Norris said. 

"A lot of times they are out of the water and they are going to be OK, as long as they stay cool," Norris said. "They are mammals so they are going to breathe air."

He said, "We don’t want anybody to risk their lives; they were trying to do the right thing but it's not worth it."

Follow Melissa Montoya on Twitter: @MelissaMontoyaO

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