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Pregnant manatee saved on Mother’s Day weekend in Florida

Staff Writer
Walton Sun
Walton Sun

Mother’s Day took on a new meaning for Mote Marine Laboratory.

A collaborative effort over the weekend saved a pregnant manatee, who was delivered to SeaWorld Orlando, where she has since given birth to her calf.

On Saturday, Mote stranding biologist Michael Skinner, responded to a call to Mote’s 24/7 Stranding Investigations Program hotline (941-988-0212) about a distressed manatee near Harbor Towers Yacht & Racquet Club on Siesta Key.

After arriving, Blackburn realized the manatee was the same individual she had received calls about and searched for the day before, and quickly contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to begin to stage a rescue effort for the manatee.

“I noticed that the manatee was listing to one side, and had both healed and fresh boat strike wounds,” Blackburn said. “Those kinds of wounds likely caused air to be trapped in the manatee’s chest cavity, making it difficult for the animal to submerge efficiently. Given the busy area and heavy boat traffic, we knew it would be very difficult for her to avoid any other potential boat collisions.”

FWC led the rescue effort, as additional trained responders from Mote, the Sarasota Police Department, and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office descended upon the scene. A crowd gathered on the shoreline to watch the action.

The manatee was safely netted onto a boat and transferred into a transport truck — no small feat with a nearly 1,700-pound animal — headed for rehabilitation at SeaWorld, one of four critical care facilities for manatees in Florida and a member of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership.

“The Sarasota Police Department Marine Patrol officers as well as other patrol officers have an ongoing partnership with Mote’s Stranding Investigations team,” said Sarasota Police Officer Michael Skinner. “We all work together on the road and on the water. We hate to see injured wildlife in our waterways but we’re hoping this team effort was enough to help give this manatee a second chance.”

During the veterinarian exam at SeaWorld, the manatee was found to be pregnant. On Tuesday, the manatee gave birth to a healthy calf. SeaWorld’s rehabilitation team continues to monitor both mother and calf, and the mother manatee is being treated for her injuries. Although stable, she is still in critical condition.

“These are the good days. When all of our partners come together, from our city, county and state law enforcement officers, to the FWC stranding biologists that led the rescue, to the SeaWorld Orlando team now caring for her and her calf, it is our stranding network at its finest,” said Gretchen Lovewell, Manager of Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program.

This story originally published to heraldtribune.com and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.