Rescued Manatee Sporting Life Saving Wetsuit after Boat Strike near Satellite Beach
On Sunday, May 10th, 2015 as many mothers were receiving flowers, cards and chocolates from their loved ones; one special mother received a gift that would save her life, it was a bright pink wetsuit. The wetsuit was provided by the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team when they responded to assist and rescue a distressed mother and her still nursing calf near Satellite Beach, Fla.
The 10-year-old mother manatee was injured by a water craft strike and is currently being treated at SeaWorld for buoyancy issues due to a collapsed lung. The condition is known as a pneumothorax and it was potentially caused by the blunt force of the boat striking the mother. For a manatee, not being able to float evenly in the water is a serious issue, causing problems with feeding, swimming and coming up to the surface for air. To treat the pneumothorax the SeaWorld Veterinary Team needed to draw out trapped air and fluids from around the manatee’s lungs.
Her calf is estimated to be 2 years old and, although he was unharmed by the water craft, he is still nursing and dependent on his mother. It is important that the pair remain together as the calf continues to grow and learn from its mother.
About the “Manatee Wetsuit”
– Made from 20 square feet of hot pink neoprene, the wetsuit attaches around the mother’s body with a fabric hook and loop fastener.
– In past rescues, custom floating inserts have been attached to the wetsuit to help the manatee float evenly in the water; the inserts can be moved around and eventually removed as the issue corrects throughout the rehabilitation.
– The wetsuit provides even stability around the mother’s thoracic cavity which can help prevent pockets of air and fluid from returning.
– The custom made “manatee wetsuit” was designed 25 years ago for such rescue cases.
– SeaWorld sent specific measurements to a wetsuit manufacturer to create this unique treatment tool.
– Special considerations were made when using the wetsuit as part of the treatment so it would not interfere with natural behaviors, such as the calf’s nursing.
Over the next several weeks, the SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue team will continue to closely monitor the mother manatee’s progress and ensure her calf is still properly nursing by her side.