Showing posts with label Manatee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manatee. Show all posts

Friday, March 31, 2017

Manatee Removed From Endangered Species List

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced on Thursday the downlisting of the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened. Notable increases in manatee populations and improvements in its habitat allowed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to change the species’ status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The downlisting means that the manatee is no longer considered in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, but is likely to become so in the foreseeable future without continued ESA protections.

Reclassification of manatees has been pending since 2007, when the USFWS first announced its intention to move manatees from the endangered list — meaning they were in imminent danger of extinction — to the “threatened” list, meaning they possibly could become at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future.

Today’s estimated population of 6,620 Florida manatees is a dramatic turnaround from the 1970s, when just a few hundred individuals remained. But the manatees’ continued high population count could spell trouble for the dying Indian River Lagoon.  That’s because an 800 to 1,200 pound adult sea cow can eat up 10% to 15% of its body weight daily in aquatic vegetation which mostly consists of seagrass.  

As the below graphic shows, there appears to be an inverse relationship with the manatee population counts and seagrass acreage in the Indian River Lagoon whenever the manatee count exceeds around 1,700 on Florida’s East Coast. 

For the fist time in the decades-long debate between manatee activists and the boating community, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) acknowledged that the increased manatee population does have an effect on nutrient load and seagrass loss in the Indian River Lagoon following a Brevard Times investigation in 2014.

“At the time the seagrass TMDLs were developed [in 2009], manatees were not considered as major nutrient contributors to the Indian River Lagoon because not all the data needed to quantify the manatee nutrient contribution were available.  It is worth noting that manatees have been part of the Indian River Lagoon ecosystem for a long time,” FDEP stated in an email to Brevard Times.

“Based on the Department’s Nutrient and Dissolved Oxygen TMDLs for the Indian River Lagoon and Banana River Lagoon report (FDEP, 2009), the long-term annual average TN [Total Nitrogen] and TP [Total Phosphorous] loads entering the Indian River Lagoon system are about 1511 tons and 216 tons, respectively.  The 25 to 109 tons of TN and 2 to 7 tons of TP contributed by manatees only account for about 1.7% to 6.7% of TN loads and 0.7% to 3.0% of TP loads entering the Indian River Lagoon system.”

“Manatees should actually be classed as a “recovered” species — meaning they are neither endangered nor threatened, and not listed within the ESA,” said Robert Atkins, president of Citizens For Florida’s Waterways, a Brevard County-based advocacy group for recreational boaters.

Atkins notes that delaying the decision longer than the decade it has taken would be a disservice to the integrity of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). “The people must have faith in the honest assessment of Government Agencies.”  In this case, Atkins emphasizes that the best available science confirms there is zero chance of manatee extinction over the next 100 years.

But the Save the Manatee Club contends that the declassification was premature and blames the Trump administration.

“FWS decided to prematurely downlist manatees without a proven viable plan for reducing record-high watercraft-related manatee deaths and without establishing a long-term plan for the anticipated loss of artificial winter warm water habitat on which more than 60% of the Florida manatee population depends,” said Patrick Rose, Executive Director for Save the Manatee Club. “A federal reclassification at this time will seriously undermine the chances of securing the manatee’s long- term survival. With the new federal administration threating to cut 75% of regulations, including those that protect our wildlife and air and water quality, the move to downlist manatees can only be seen as a political one.” 

Photo credit: FWC

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

SeaWorld Releases Orphaned Baby Manatee Into Indian River Lagoon

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – Almost three years after she was rescued, a female manatee has returned to the Florida’s natural waters. Amidst cheers and bittersweet tears, SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue Team returned Blanche to Port St. John, Florida and watched her swim away, ready to begin her life in the wild.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

SeaWorld Orlando Caring For 3 Rescued Manatees

Orphaned Manatee Calf At SeaWorld Orlando

ORLANDO, Florida – SeaWorld Orlando’s critical care facility is taking care of three manatees rescued in Brevard County and Volusia County, Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) rescued a manatee mother and her young calf from the Tomoka River on May 9 near Ormond Beach, Florida. After careful monitoring by the FWC, rescuers determined that the 10-foot-2-inch-long,  1,255-pound manatee mother was experiencing severe buoyancy issues, which could negatively impact her health, eating patterns and the nursing of her calf.

Due to the impact scar on the adult manatee’s back, rescuers believe that she was struck by a watercraft. This caused her to suffer from a pneumothorax (air trapped inside body cavity), so SeaWorld’s expert veterinary team placed the manatee in a wetsuit to stabilize the manatee’s buoyancy issue and was successful in removing the air trapped in the chest cavity.


SeaWorld said in a release that the manatee is no longer in the wetsuit and has been seen swimming more upright. Although showing signs of progress, the care team still remains guarded and has performed radiographs on the mother to ensure there are no broken bones or any other internal damage caused by the watercraft.

The mother’s young calf came in weighing approximately 97 pounds, measuring 4 feet and 5 inches, and still nursing from its mother. The calf has not left its mother’s side and has continued to nurse consistently throughout the rehabilitation process. The calf has also begun to take an interest in eating solid foods, which SeaWorld said is a sign of good health.

FWC also rescued an orphaned manatee calf near Satellite Beach, Florida and transported it to SeaWorld Orlando.  The calf received immediate nutritional support and is currently under a 24-hour watch by the SeaWorld Animal Care team.

The SeaWorld said that its Animal Care Team will continue to work around the clock to provide these three manatees the highest quality of care with the ultimate goal of returning them back to their natural environment.

So far in 2016, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 11 manatees, and returned 13 back to the wild.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

SeaWorld Orlando Opens Up Manatee Rehabilitation Rescue Center To Guests

ORLANDO, Florida – Today, in conjunction with Manatee Appreciation Day, SeaWorld Orlando opened Manatee Rehabilitation, an area for the theme park’s guests to see the behind-the-scenes rescue and rehabilitation work SeaWorld does to help save wild manatees. Manatee Rehabilitation allows park guests to step into a working wild manatee acute care facility, come face-to-face with animals that have been ill or injured, and follow their journey to recovery.


Behind-the-scenes of the SeaWorld theme park is a bustling, 5-acre Rescue Center used for rehabilitating rescued wildlife. While a guided tour of the entire facility has been available for years, with ten percent of the cost donated to helping wildlife, the park has now opened up sections of the manatee rehabilitation area for complimentary viewing to all guests.

Visitors are invited to step behind-the-scenes and catch a glimpse of SeaWorld’s working manatee rescue and rehabilitation facility to learn more about the plight of these vulnerable animals in the wild. Park guests can see firsthand the top problems today’s manatee populations are facing and learn simple actions to help. In addition to viewing the animals currently undergoing rehabilitation, guests can also see their digital medical charts, interactive exhibits, an underwater viewing camera and videos of the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team in action.

SeaWorld hopes to generate awareness and educate visitors on their simple mission, to return every manatee they successfully rehabilitate back to the wild. Guests now have the opportunity to explore this working facility and become inspired through the stories of recently rescued manatees; guests can even follow their journey back to the wild.

SeaWorld’s goal for every animal rescued is to successfully rehabilitate and return it to the wild.  The team works closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to determine when a manatee is ready to be returned as well as the proper time and location.

This opportunity is one of the first steps in the company’s vision to “turn the park inside out” and show guests how the company is helping wild animals in need.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Florida Manatee Count Hits New All Time High

Manatees photographed during annual population survey. Credit: FWC
Manatees photographed during annual population survey. Credit: FWC

For the second year in a row, the number of manatees in Florida has reached another all-time high.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

4 Manatees Released Near Port St. John FPL Power Plant

PORT SAINT JOHN, Florida – On this chilly morning, four rescued and rehabilitated manatees were returned back to their natural water ways by a large group of Florida’s marine mammal experts — including SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team,  Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and Miami Seaquarium – in a multi-organization effort led by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). 

The two animals released by SeaWorld were particularly special, including the 500th manatee rescued by the park, and an animal that was rescued two years ago as a tiny, 121-pound orphan and now weighs a whopping 705 pounds.

The manatees were returned near the warm water outfall of the FPL Port St. John power plant in Brevard County to provide them with a warm water site during the current cold snap. There, the naïve animals can link up with experienced wild manatees that are also seeking refuge from chilly waters.

According to SeaWorld, the reason manatees are returned during cooler weather is because other wild manatees naturally congregate in specific warm water sources during these periods.  Doing this allows the new animals to acclimate to a larger group, from which they can learn migratory patterns once the weather warms up.  It also allows the newly-released manatees to familiarize themselves with a specific warm water site to return to the next time temperatures cool down.

The four manatees were all initially rescued from the Indian River Lagoon.

Quincentariat – This juvenile male manatee was rescued on May 10, 2014 from the Banana River in Cape Canaveral due to cold stress.  He was the 500th manatee rescued by the SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team.  At the time of rescue he weighed 286 pounds, measuring 6 feet in length. The healthy manatee now weighs over 735 pounds, measuring more than 8 feet long.

Shirley – The orphan female calf was rescued on January 28, 2014 from the De Soto Canal in Satellite Beach, Florida. At the time of rescue she weighed 121 pounds and measured 4 feet 8 inches in length. The healthy and independent manatee now weighs 705 pounds and measures 7 feet 8 inches long.

Hammock – A young male patient named “Hammock” was rescued in March of 2014 from Indian River as an orphan, and will now receive a second chance at life in the wild after nearly two years of rehabilitation at the Manatee Hospital at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.

Abigail – In March 2013, Abigail was rescued from the Indian River system near Merritt Island in Brevard County, Florida. Suffering from cold stress, Abigail received critical care at Sea World Orlando and then was transferred to Cincinnati Zoo for rehabilitation.  Then, in October of 2015, Abigail arrived at Miami Seaquarium to become acclimated to the natural diet and brackish water found in the region.  She is estimated to weigh approximately 700-800 pounds and estimated to be between 3-5 years old.

Friday, January 8, 2016

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Manatees To Be Taken Off Endangered Species List

A baby manatee

MIAMI, Florida – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on Thursday that the West Indian manatee is proposed to be downlisted from endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Injured Manatee Mother Gets Pink Wetsuit At SeaWorld Orlando

ORLANDO, Florida – While many human mothers were receiving flowers, cards and chocolates from their loved ones on Mother’s Day, a mother manatee received a gift that would save her life –  a hot pink wetsuit from the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team.

The SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team rescued the distressed manatee and her still-nursing calf on Mother’s Day, May 10, 2015, after she was injured by a watercraft strike near Satellite Beach, Florida.

The 10-year-old mother manatee has a collapsed lung which creates buoyancy issues. According to SeaWorld, the condition is known as a pneumothorax – which was possibly caused by the blunt force of the boat striking the manatee. Not being able to float evenly in the water is a serious issue for a manatee that causes 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. So SeaWorld outfitted the 9-foot-long manatee with a 20 sq. ft. neoprene “manatee wetsuit” that the park designed 25 years ago for such rescue cases.  The wetsuit helps assist the 1,070 pound manatee with floating and also allows the team draw out trapped air and fluids. 

The approximately 2 to 3-year-old calf was unharmed by the watercraft – but is still nursing and dependent on its mother. Rescuers say that it is important that the pair remain together as the calf continues to grow and learn from its mother. SeaWorld said that special considerations were made when using the wetsuit as part of the treatment so that it would not interfere with natural behaviors, such as the calf’s nursing.

So far in 2015, SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team has rescued 27 manatees and returned 27.  

Image Credit: SeaWorld



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Orphaned Baby Manatee Rescued From Indian River

PORT ST. JOHN, Florida — An orphaned manatee calf was rescued on Monday from the Indian River near the FPL power plant in Port St. John, Fla. by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). 

The estimated two-week-old female was spotted swimming alone by members of the FPL power plant, who contacted the FWC. 

The calf, which weighs 48 pounds and measures 48 inches in length, was transported by the FWC to SeaWorld Orlando, where the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team and veterinary staff performed a complete health exam, took blood samples and began providing an antibiotic treatment. The calf will receive around-the-clock care, including regular tube feedings, and her health will continue to be monitored.

The calf joined three other orphans, who are also receiving rehabilitative care at the park. Manatee calves normally nurse for one to two years. They depend on their mothers not only for nutrition, but also for learning about feeding and resting areas. SeaWorld Orlando uses a special formula created by the park’s animal care team specifically for manatee calves to ensure they are receiving proper nutrition. 

So far in 2014, SeaWorld has rescued 8 and returned 7 manatees back to their natural environment

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Manatee May Be Taken Off Endangered Species List

Florida Manatee. Photo Credit: FWC

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced  yesterday that it has launched a formal review of a possible downlisting of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) on the federal Endangered Species Act list from “endangered” to “threatened” after the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) presented “substantial scientific or commercial information” indicating that downlisting “may be warranted.”

After the Florida manatee’s (a subspecies of the West Indian manatee) population exploded in the last decade, wildlife management officials recommended changing the status from endangered to threatened in 2012.  But FWS did not downlist the species based on that recommendation.  PLF also presented scientific information in a petition for downlisting in late 2012.  When the FWS failed to respond for well over a year, PLF attorneys filed their lawsuit this past May to compel action by the agency.

In both the 2012 petition and the lawsuit this spring, PLF attorneys represent Save Crystal River, Inc., a nonprofit organization of citizens from Crystal River in Citrus County, Florida, who advocate for property rights and a quality of life that they say preserves the “proper balance between nature and human activity.”

FWS will now conduct a 90-day finding to determine whether downlisting is warranted.


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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2 Men Sentenced For Harassing Manatees

Photo Credit: FWC 
ORLANDO, Florida – Two 22-year-old men were sentenced in Federal Court today for harassing a mother manatee and her calf in a canal behind a home in Cocoa Beach, Florida. 

The United States Attorney said that Taylor Blake Martin of Alabama and Seth Andrew Stephenson of Rockledge, Florida were sentenced today by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory J. Kelly.  Martin and Stephenson previously pleaded guilty to harassing an endangered species. 

Judge Kelly ordered Martin to pay a $3,000 fine, and sentenced him to 175 hours of community service, and 2 years’ probation. Stephenson was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, and was sentenced to 175 hours of community service, and 2 years’ probation. Martin and Stephenson were also ordered to individually post an apology and a statement of remorse on Facebook.

According to court documents, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service became aware of a video posted on Facebook that showed one individual luring two manatees to a dock with a water hose and another individual jump off of a boat dock and “cannonball” an adult manatee and a calf. 

Further investigation revealed that Martin was the person who “cannonballed” on top of the manatees and Stephenson lured the manatees to the dock with the water hose. The video shows Martin land on the back of the adult manatee as the manatees swim away. Stephenson then begins to use the water hose in an attempt to lure the manatees back as the video ends. 

“The U.S. Magistrate Judge sent a clear message with this sentence that manatee harassment is a serious crime which will be dealt with harshly,” said Andrew Alois, Resident Agent in Charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Florida. “If there had been evidence of physical damage to the manatees he would have put them in jail,” 

After the video was posted on Facebook, several people commented on it. In response to a post that expressed displeasure with Martin’s actions, Martin responded, “hahaha…in my debue [sic] as tayla the manatee slaya…im f—- ready to cannonball on every manatee living yewwww.” 

“There’s absolutely no excuse for this type of reckless behavior with any wildlife species, but particularly those that are endangered,” said Ken Warren, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson. “We hope these sentences serve as a reminder of that and as a deterrent to anyone thinking of harassing or bothering, in any way, manatees or any type of wildlife.” 

Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. They are found in marine, estuarine and freshwater environments.  The canals in Cocoa Beach and the surrounding islands, known as the Thousands Islands, are designated as a “Brevard County Manatee Protection Zone” under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.

There have been several reported instances of people harassing Florida Manatees in recent years.  A Fort Pierce, Florida man was arrested for allegedly harassing or disturbing a manatee calf in Taylor Creek in St. Lucie County back in in January after photos of him hugging the sea cow were posted on Facebook.

In September 2012, a woman was photographed riding a manatee at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County, Florida.  The woman contacted the Pinellas County Sheriff’s department after the photos made the news, but was not immediately arrested because authorities said it was an arrestable offense since the manatee harassment did not occur in a deputy’s presence.  She was later arrested and charged in November 2012.

There are also recent instances of people helping marine animals in Cocoa Beach.  Last, a Florida surfer rescued a sea turtle that was tangled in fishing line.  In May, a Florida lifeguard saved a shark by pulling back out to sea with his bare hands.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

SeaWorld Rescues Manatee From Indian River Lagoon

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – The SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team rescued an injured manatee from the Indian River Lagoon in Port St. John, Fla., near the FPL power plant. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) spotted the injured manatee last Wednesday (May 14) and had been monitoring it closely. FWC noticed that the manatee was not submerging under water and appeared to suffer from a watercraft hit. 

The manatee, which is believed to be eight feet in length and weigh almost 800 pounds, was transported by FWC to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, for rehabilitation and care.

So far in 2014, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued six manatees and returned six. This is the 501st rescued manatee to be cared for at SeaWorld Orlando since the animal rescue program started in 1976. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

2014 Florida Manatee Count 3rd Highest On Record

Photo Credit: FWC

MERRITT ISLAND, Florida — Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported a preliminary count of 4,831 manatees in Florida during this year’s statewide aerial survey, conducted in late January.

Over two days (Jan. 24 and 27), a team of 20 observers from nine organizations counted 2,317 manatees on Florida’s east coast and 2,514 on the west coast of the state. The final numbers will be available following verification of survey data.

“This year’s manatee count is the third highest we have recorded since the first statewide aerial survey in 1991,” said Gil McRae, director of the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “We are encouraged by the relatively high count, especially given the high number of manatee deaths documented recently. Information on warm-water habitat use from this year’s survey will be integrated with manatee survival and reproductive rates to update future population projections.”


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fukushima Radiation and America’s Aquatic Dustbowl

A Brevard Times Editorial

The Banana River with NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in the background. Brevard Times / File photo.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — Several comparisons can be drawn between the American Dust Bowl of the 1930's and the recent plight of the Indian River Lagoon on Florida's east coast.

Friday, December 6, 2013

SeaWorld Orlando Releases Two Manatees In Brevard County

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – The SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team returned two female manatees into the Indian River Lagoon this week after receiving treatment and care at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida for several months. 

On Tuesday, the Animal Rescue Team successfully returned Vesuvia, a 5-year-old sub-adult female manatee, to the waters of Front Street Park in Melbourne. She was rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in April after sustaining watercraft injuries in the Indian River in Melbourne, Florida. She was transported to SeaWorld Orlando after her rescue where she received radiographs, antibiotics and regular flushing of deep abscesses on her body. During rehabilitation, Vesuvia gained 110 pounds, and weighed 855 pounds when she was returned. 

On Thursday, Dorothy-Gail, a female independent manatee calf approximately 3-years-old, was returned to the waters at Parrish Park in Titusville, Florida. Dorothy-Gail was rescued from New Smyrna Beach’s Mosquito Lagoon this past May by the FWC and SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team. Dorothy-Gail suffered from watercraft injuries and was transported to SeaWorld Orlando where she received antibiotics, fluids, radiographs and other supportive care. She gained 15 pounds during rehabilitation, and weighed 645 pounds at the time of her return. 

Photo Credit: SeaWorld

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Is The Florida Manatee Population Comeback To Blame For Record Deaths?

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — In Florida, 769 manatees have died so far this year from January 1st through October 29th, making it the largest annual manatee die-off in Florida since record-keeping began, according to a press release issued by the Save the Manatee Club. 

The previous record was set in 2010 when biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission documented 766 dead manatees, of which hundreds died from cold stress. With more than two months still to go in 2013, nearly twice the number of manatees have already died than died in all of 2012. 

According to Dr. Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee Club’s Director of Science and Conservation, two unusual mortality events in 2013, coupled with the regular threats manatees face on a daily basis, have been responsible for the unprecedented losses. A record number of 276 manatees succumbed from exposure to a toxic red tide bloom in southwest Florida, centered in Lee County. Meanwhile, on Florida’s east coast, an unusual mortality event claimed more than 100 manatee lives in Brevard County this year. 

“This year’s record-breaking manatee mortality is a loud and clear signal that our waterways are in trouble,” says Tripp, who explained that of the total number of manatee deaths so far this year, 123 were stillborn, newborn, or young calves less than five feet in length, which sets another annual record for this category of mortality.  Of these, at least 49 were found in Brevard County, at the epicenter of the unusual mortality event linked to a variety of algal blooms and loss of 47,000 acres of seagrass since 2010.

While biologists have not come up with a definitive answer for the manatee die off and the destruction of the Indian River Lagoon, it could be the Florida manatees’ population comeback and the overgrazing of sea grass that is causing their habitat’s demise on Florida’s East Coast.  According to a research study performed by the University of Florida and the U.S. Geological Survey in 2012,  the manatee population has grown so much in the last decade that the aquatic creatures may soon find themselves reclassified by wildlife management officials from endangered to merely threatened.

An 800 to 1,200 pound adult sea cow can eat up 10% to 15% of its body weight daily in aquatic vegetation.  According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Manatee Recovery Plan, manatees sometime graze on sea grass which leaves the possibility for regrowth – but manatees also “root” sea grass – meaning the entire plant is pulled and the underwater sediment is disturbed.

Of course, what goes in must also come out.  Residents in Vero Beach witnessed the full extent of the sea cows’ voracious appetites’ end product in 2009 when a mile-long stretch of manatee fecal matter closed area beaches.  

“I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve lived along beaches all my life,” beach-goer Bill Becker told TCPalm. “It was disgusting, but mystifying. It looked like Great Dane poop all along the beach.” 

Although scientist have not yet linked the nitrates in manatee fecal matter to algae growth in the Indian River Lagoon, the worst algae blooms in Brevard have erupted in recent years in the northern part of the Indian River where manatees congregate in large numbers near an FPL power plant that discharges warm water just south of Titusville, Florida. 

Photo Credit: FWC


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Friday, October 25, 2013

Two Men Charged With Harassing Florida Manatee

COCOA BEACH, Florida –  Two men have been charged by the U.S. Attorney in Federal Court for allegedly harassing manatees in a manatee protection zone.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

SeaWorld Releases Manatee Near Cape Canaveral (VIDEO)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida —  Yesterday, the SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team returned Laces, a nearly 900-pound female manatee, to waters near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Laces was brought to SeaWorld Orlando in August of 2012 after being rescued from the Banana River near Cocoa Beach due to boat strike injuries on her upper back.

SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 22,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than four decades. So far this year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 13 manatees and returned eight after yesterday’s return. 

To learn about all of SeaWorld’s conservation efforts visit or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Video and Photo Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

Monday, July 1, 2013

New Florida Manatee and Sea Turtle Decals Available

TALLAHASSE, Florida — New manatee and sea turtle decals from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) give people another chance to celebrate the 500-year anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon’s arrival on Florida shores and support conservation of these iconic Florida species.

Manatees and sea turtles were among the native wildlife seen by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon and his crew in 1513, when he named the peninsula La Florida, land of the flowers. Ponce de Leon also designated a cluster of islands 70 miles west of Key West as Las Tortugas, because of sea turtles nesting there.  As with other Florida beaches, the islands of Dry Tortugas National Park still have loggerhead, leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles coming back year after year to lay their eggs.

Today, the manatee is the state’s designated marine mammal and the loggerhead sea turtle is the state’s saltwater reptile.

“The abundance of wildlife that Ponce De Leon and his crew witnessed when arriving on Florida shores 500 years ago still exists today, thanks to people who support conservation of species such as manatees and sea turtles,” said Carol Knox, FWC’s imperiled species section leader. “People who voluntarily donate $5 for a manatee or sea turtle decal increase the chances that these species will be around another 500 years.”

The latest editions of the manatee and sea turtle decals go on sale July 1. Floridians can donate $5 to receive a decal when they are registering a vehicle or vessel, or renewing a registration, through the mail or in person at county tax collectors’ offices across the state. The sale of decals helps support the FWC’s manatee and sea turtle research, rescue, rehabilitation, management and education efforts. Manatee and sea turtle decals also can be ordered online at or


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Thursday, June 13, 2013

SeaWorld Releases Florida Manatee Rescued From Red Tide Bloom

FORT MYERS, Florida — SeaWorld Orlando’s animal rescue team returned ‘Gibb the manatee’ to the waters near Boca Grande, on Florida’s southwest coast.

Gibb was originally rescued by animal experts at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo last October during one of the worst red tide blooms scientists had seen in over a decade.  Gibb finished his rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando under the watchful eye of the park’s veterinarians and rescue team.  He is one of seven manatees SeaWorld Orlando will be returning to the wild over the next month.

State and federal scientists are analyzing data to better understand the long-term impacts of the recent red tide bloom event on the Florida manatee population and the impacts of other events including extreme cold snaps from 2009-2011.

Florida manatees are listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  However, decades of conservation efforts have led to Florida manatee population increases, which could mean that the manatee’s classification could be downgraded from Endangered to Threatened in the near future.

SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 22,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than four decades. So far this year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued two manatees and returned one.

If you see injured marine animal, you can help by calling the FWC hotline at 1(888) 404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.

Image Credit: SeaWorld Orlando 


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