Wednesday morning, SeaWorld Orlando and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens returned two rehabilitated manatees. A warm water source near the St. John Boat Ramp provided the perfect location for this important manatee return.
The two manatees returned were sub-adult females. One rescuers named Harper Lee was rescued on November 9, 2017 from Sikes Creek in Merritt Island Florida due to an entanglement. During her rehabilitation she received routine wound treatment as well as antibiotics for infection caused by the entanglement.
The second, named Carolina, was Jacksonville Zoo’s first critical care patient at their new facility. She was rescued in Charleston, South Carolina as part of a larger operation to relocate wayward manatees that found themselves trapped in the Cooper River when water temperatures quickly dropped last November. Carolina was exhibiting mild cold stress and it was determined by SeaWorld and Jacksonville veterinarians onsite that she would require rehabilitation. Over her six week rehabilitation she was able to heal from her cold stress injuries and regain her strength.
The goal with every rescue is to rehabilitate and return the animal as quickly as possible. This remains the case even during winter months. Returning manatees to a warm water source also allows the rescued manatees to familiarize themselves with the warm water site so they can return to it again the next time temperatures cool down.
In addition to returning two rehabilitated manatees, SeaWorld Orlando transferred a young rescued manatee to the Jacksonville Zoo. As part of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) facilities are able to work together shifting rehab animals between facilities to ensure future rescues are not turned away. With the Jacksonville Zoo taking this young rescue for continued rehabilitation, SeaWorld Orlando now has more space for future critical rescues.
SeaWorld Orlando is part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at manateerescue.org.
The Florida manatee was recently reclassified from endangered to threatened, but is still at risk from both natural and human causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by floodgates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.
If you see an injured marine animal, you can help by calling the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.
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