The SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team, US government officials and members of the local community worked together through the night to rescue 19 manatees stuck in a drainpipe in a residential area of Satellite Beach, Florida, on Monday.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) called on SeaWorld to lend their expertise to help assist this massive manatee rescue attempt.
The successful rescue lasted nearly nine hours and included six manatees being pushed through the pipe. Members of the local agency had to drill through the pipes in order to lift the remaining 13 manatees out and relocate them into a nearby pond which leads into the Indian River Lagoon. Also participating were local firefighter, police and scientists from the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute.
Manatees need warm water, above 20 degrees centigrade, in order to survive. With the recent cold snap in Florida, the manatees needed to find a warm water source and ended up congregating in the pipes.
In collaboration with the government and other members of stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programmes to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to their natural environment. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 25,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than five decades.
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.