News Releases

State's manatee rescue network busy over weekend

News Release

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Media contact: Carli Segelson, 727-896-8626

Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and partner organizations worked throughout the weekend to rescue several manatees. Teams from the state's manatee rescue network attempted to rescue 10 animals from different locations across the state.

Most of these animals showed signs of manatee cold-stress syndrome. This condition, which can result in death, occurs as a result of exposure to water temperatures below 68 degrees for long periods. When possible, biologists capture manatees in life-threatening situations and transport them to rehabilitation facilities for treatment if necessary.

On Saturday, a team led by FWC biologists rescued two juvenile manatees showing signs of cold stress. They rescued the first animal in St. Petersburg, then traveled to Bradenton to rescue the other. They took both of these animals to Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo for rehabilitation.

On Sunday, FWC biologists coordinated with staff at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge to rescue a juvenile manatee with watercraft-related injuries. Rescuers took this animal to Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo for rehabilitation as well. Also on Sunday, a team led by FWC biologists rescued a manatee stuck in a storm drain in Vero Beach. Once safely out of the drain, the animal was able to swim away.

Rescues continued Monday as an FWC-led team captured an adult female manatee with watercraft-related injuries in the Fort Pierce area. The team took the injured animal to the Miami Seaquarium for rehabilitation.

Rescuing a manatee is a challenging procedure, and biologists won't attempt it unless they determine there is an immediate threat to the animal's health or safety. Biologists must carefully weigh many factors before initiating a rescue. While several rescues were successful last weekend, unfortunately not all rescue attempts had a positive outcome. Three manatees were in such poor condition that, despite the efforts of biologists to save them, they died before they could be transported to a rehabilitation facility.

Rescue teams pursued two additional manatees that avoided capture. Biologists will make future attempts to rescue these animals if they are able to locate them again.

To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Proceeds from the sale of the "Save the Manatee" license plate and manatee decal are a primary source of funding for Florida's manatee research and conservation, including rescue efforts such as these.



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