As Hurricane Irma raged 100 miles away, people in Manatee County, Fla., put their lives on the line to save, well, manatees. A group of "stir crazy" friends ventured out of a shelter in Sarasota on Sunday to find Sarasota Bay emptied of water that was pulled into Irma's eyewall, reports the Los Angeles Times. That's not all the friends noticed. Walking along hundreds of yards of new shoreline, they came upon two manatees stranded "deep in mud," including one that wasn't moving, reports Fox 13. "We called every service we could think of, but no one answered," one member of the group writes on Facebook. Yet "we couldn't just let those manatees die out there," Tony Faradini-Campos tells the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. So they turned to social media.
Faradini-Campos says he and his friends posted photos of the manatees online and the story "just blew up." Wildlife officials and two Manatee County sheriff's deputies eventually responded and helped move the manatees onto tarps so they could be dragged to deep water. It was an "absolutely amazing" rescue and "shows what people can do when they come together," says Faradini-Campos. It was also incredibly dangerous: In a tweet Sunday, the National Hurricane Center warned people to "MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER" because the passing of Hurricane Irma meant the wind direction would change from offshore to onshore, "causing water levels along the southwest coast of Florida to rapidly rise in a matter of minutes," per CNN.