SeaWorld Orlando is now caring for an adult male manatee that was rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) yesterday near Ponte Vedra, just south of Jacksonville, Fla. The animal was spotted floating unusually high in the water and is believed to be suffering from boat strike injuries, among other ailments.
The nearly 10-foot-long manatee was transported to SeaWorld last night by FWC. Upon arriving, the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team completed a full health assessment, fitted the manatee with a wet suit — to assist in correcting buoyancy issues and help with surface breathing — and began providing regular tube feedings.
Today, the SeaWorld veterinary team performed a chest tap to release any trapped fluids or air that could be causing the animal to float abnormally and began administering antibiotics. This 1,000-pound male is in guarded condition and will continue to receive around-the-clock care over the next few days, including regular tube feedings and antibiotic treatment. The team remains optimistic he will make a full recovery.
A PIT tag allowed the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team to identify this animal and learned that he had been rescued once before after becoming stranded near the Matanzas River in St. Johns County, Fla. This manatee and six others were assisted back to the water after getting stuck in a muddy oyster bed in April 2002. PIT tags are small satellite transmitters the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses to identify and track individual animals in the wild. Information from these tags not only provides health information, but also gives findings on migration patterns and feeding areas, which can be used to designate manatee and wildlife refuges, allowing man and manatee to share the environment.
So far in 2013, SeaWorld has rescued 15 and returned 8 manatees back to their natural habitat.
In collaboration with the government and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the waters. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 22,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than four decades.