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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Florida wildlife officials believe a manatee and her baby have been freed from being trapped behind an underwater retention fence where they found refuge last week from Hurricane Dorian.

At least that's the working theory, since no one could see clearly into the murky water. The manatees likely swam into the area when storm surge raised the water and became stuck when it receded.

Construction workers spent four hours Wednesday creating an opening in the metal wall, burrowed 24 feet into the riverbed of the Halifax River in Daytona Beach.

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When wildlife officials didn't see the mother and calf surface after 20 minutes, they assumed that the manatees had escaped through the opening.

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The Daytona Beach News Journal report s that 100 people crowded around to watch the efforts.

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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