A tragic scene in Tampa accompanied Tropical Storm Debby's torrential rain Monday night: as water rushed over a low seawall on scenic Bayshore Boulevard, a nursing manatee did not survive being trapped on the flooded roadway.
Making matters tricky for animal rescue workers, two younger manatees were found bobbing in the strong surf around her, refusing to leave the female's dead body.
"The water has about a four foot chop right against the seawall and the mother was getting banged against the seawall and at the same time, the babies at times were also getting banged against the seawall," witness Corey Catt told WTSP.
Because it was too dangerous to attempt rescuing the smaller manatees in the dark, onlookers were advised to tie the dead manatee's body in place so that the juveniles would not follow it out with the tide.
Fortunately, according to Bay News 9, wildlife experts determined the next morning that the younger manatees were old enough to survive on their own.
"It's horrible,'' said witness Ginger Chapman Tuesday morning. "But at least we're excited to see the babies are still (alive). And hopefully, they will survive.''
UPDATE, 10 p.m.: Though the dead manatee was a nursing female, Andy Garrett, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, told TBO.com that the other two manatees were actually adult males.
RELATED ON HUFFPOST:
View more manatees: images and captions courtesy of International League of Conservation Photographers.
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more