State's manatee rescue network busy over weekend
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
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.