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Members of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team traveled to Charleston, S.C. this past week, where — along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources – they helped save several wayward manatees.
The manatees were spotted in the upper reaches of the Cooper River, near a warm water outflow area by the KapStone paper mill. Due to dropping water temperatures in the river, the manatees remained close to the warm water outflow, isolating them from adequate food sources and the naturally warm waters they need. KapStone played an integral role in monitoring their activity, reporting key data and providing assistance to the rescue team. Historically, manatees move into warmer waters when the water temperature drops below 68 degrees.
The rescue operation took place over two days. Two adult manatees, a male and a female, were successfully rescued on Thursday, December 8 after hours of searching. They were deemed healthy and transported back to Florida where they were returned back to the wild in Brevard County near Port St. John around 9 p.m. by a team from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and the Brevard Zoo) The female manatee was tagged by Sea to Shore Alliance. The second manatee, a known animal referred to as Goose, was not retagged.
The team started again the following day, successfully locating and rescuing two male manatees. They were also healthy animals and returned in Florida waters on Friday evening around 6PM, also at Port St. John, by staff from Sea World and FWC’s Melbourne field office. The larger of the two males was tagged by staff from Sea to Shore Alliance.
A fifth manatee was spotted in the area but attempts to locate that animal were not successful.
To help this animal, and potential other manatees, the public should report any sightings to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at: 843-953-9360 or 1-800-922-5431 or report to the agency’s manatee sighting website:
SeaWorld’s Rescue Efforts
Over the last five decades, SeaWorld has rescued more than 29,000 wild animals in need including those that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned. SeaWorld’s goal for every rescued animal is to rehabilitate and return them to their natural environment as soon as possible.
Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership
As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), SeaWorld Orlando is an acute care rehabilitation facility that provides life-saving medical care to rescued manatees.
The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who work together to monitor
the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at www.manateerescue.org.
The endangered Florida manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.
All manatee rescue footage is produced by SeaWorld under the FWS Permit Number MA7701911.