In addition to alligators and thousands upon thousands of state fair goldfish, manatees have recently joined the list of “aquatic animals found in sewers.” On a quest to find warmer water, a posse of 19 sea cows lumbered into a storm drain in Satellite Beach, Fla.

Late Monday night, a motley crew of a rescue team — made up of firefighters, SeaWorld employees, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation staff — assembled to free the manatees. If you’re wondering what it takes to loose a herd of sea mammals from a storm drain, the answer is: a fire engine, “heavy earth moving equipment,” and a truck ladder. By 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, all 19 manatees were released — with battle scars and bragging rights.

Here’s more from Florida Today:

The animals are known to congregate in beachside canals when the water temperature in the lagoon plunges. Central Florida’s recent cold snap drove water temperatures down to near-dangerous levels for the warm-water-loving creatures.

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“It’s been cold lately and these canals are all filled with manatees,” Satellite Beach Fire Chief Don Hughes said. “I wouldn’t even begin to venture a guess as to how they got into the drainage pipes. They will go wherever there’s warm water.”

This unfortunate sea mammal commune brought about by out-of-the-ordinary ocean temperatures wasn’t the first of its kind. In September, a group of over 35,000 walruses crowded an Alaskan beach due to a dearth of sea ice. And since walruses are more likely to trample each other when parked, it was kind of like Lollapalooza — but if all of its attendees weighed 2,000 pounds and smelled really bad.

Manatees, like all animals, act on instinct. If the water is too cold, they’ll travel where it’s warmer — even if it leads them straight into the sewer.

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