Earlier today, SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), and the US Geological Survey (USGS) returned Trinidad, a male Florida manatee, to the waters of Tampa Bay, Fla. With the manatee weighing more than 1,000 pounds, it took a collaboration of 11 people to carry the animal into the water.
Trinidad, a male manatee who originally traveled from Florida to the Texas coast, was rescued by a number of members of the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, SeaWorld San Antonio and an expert from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), on November 25, 2014. A deputy with the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office found him swimming in the cold waters of the NRG Energy power plant outflow in Trinity Bay near Houston.
At the time of rescue, he weighed 960 pounds and was showing signs of cold stress, malnourishment and dehydration. The male manatee received the name Trinidad, a Spanish translation of Trinity, because of the location where he was found: Trinity Bay.
USFWS requested Trinidad be transferred to SeaWorld San Antonio, where he received medical treatment and rehabilitation, including antibiotics, tube feeding and other supportive care. Following three months of rehabilitation, SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue Team, with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, transported the manatee to SeaWorld Orlando last month for further care in preparation for his return.
Researchers determined that he is a known manatee from Tampa Bay, first observed there in December 2001. Trinidad was identified through the Manatee Individual Photo-identification System, a photographic catalog of scarred Florida manatees developed by USGS, and maintained in partnership with FWC and Mote Marine Laboratory. His travel so far west in the Gulf has prompted USGS to tag, monitor, and track his movements for a study being conducted for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and in cooperation with state, federal and local agencies, to understand manatee habitat use and movement patterns in the northern Gulf of Mexico. USGS placed a satellite-monitored GPS tag on Trinidad today prior to his return. After being medically cleared for today’s return Trinidad weighed 1,035 pounds and measured 10 feet long.
“We’re really pleased to return Trinidad back to his home. His return today is the culmination of months of hard work by SeaWorld, the Service, and our many partners who assist with manatee rescues,” said Jim Valade, the Service’s lead for manatee conservation activities.
“Today marks a huge milestone for Trinidad,” said Chris Bellows, SeaWorld San Antonio’s Vice President of Zoological Operations. “It has been a great team effort and the real reward is seeing this animal back in his home waters in Florida.”
Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at www.manateerescue.org.