Members of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team traveled to the Charleston, S.C. area 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 a wayward manatee.
The manatee was spotted in the upper reaches of the Cooper River, near a warm water outflow area. Due to dropping water temperatures in the river, the manatee remained close to the warm water outflow, leaving it isolated from an adequate food source and naturally warm water. Historically, manatees move into warmer waters when the water temperature drops below 68 degrees.
On Friday, December 11, after hours of searching, the team successfully rescued a very large male manatee, weighing over 1,300 lbs. This animal is known from the Port Everglades, Florida area. The male manatee was brought to SeaWorld Orlando for a medical examination and monitoring before it can be cleared for return to a local (and warm) Florida waterway. Another smaller manatee was also seen in the Cooper River but attempts to locate that animal have not been successful.
SeaWorld’s Rescue Efforts
Over the last five decades, SeaWorld has rescued more than 27,000 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.