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19 Manatees Rescued From Storm Drain in Satellite Beach, Florida

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A group of 19 manatees was freed after being trapped in a 36-inch storm drain, officials said early Tuesday.

Don Hughes, chief of Florida's Satellite Beach Fire Department, confirmed to NBC News that all of the mammals had been safely rescued after a 10-hour operation to get them out of the "tight squeeze."

About 60 responders were dispatched after an initial call was received at 4 p.m. ET on Monday. The last one was freed around 2 a.m. ET.

The manatees were released into a local lagoon after being evaluated, Hughes said.

The group may have inadvertently swum into the drain while searching for warmer water. During colder months, manatee pods often swim into local canals to escape more frigid waters, according to Hughes.

- Shamar Walters

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