Related video above: Manatee spotted eating seagrass at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is mourning the loss of their beloved resident manatee, Hugh, after he unexpectedly passed away Saturday.

Mote shared that animal care staff began to closely monitor Hugh after he showed a change in his behavior earlier in the day. The marine laboratory said Hugh suddenly became unresponsive in his habitat at Mote Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Center late Saturday afternoon. His animal care team responded immediately and determined that he had died. Hugh was 38 years old.

“The Mote family is absolutely heartbroken to share that yesterday, April 29, our beloved resident manatee, Hugh, passed away unexpectedly,” Mote said in a news release Sunday.

According to Mote, a necropsy or animal autopsy will be performed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory Institute to determine Hugh’s exact cause of death. The results typically take about eight or more weeks.

The marine laboratory said Hugh was born at the Miami Seaquarium and arrived at Mote from ZooTampa almost 27 years ago, on May 2, 1996. While at ZooTampa, Mote said Hugh served as an ambassador for his species and voluntarily took part in manatee research studies.

Credit: Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Mote also shared that Hugh, and his brother Buffett, are “the world’s only manatees to voluntary, detailed behavioral research designed to aid manatee conservation.”

The aquarium shared that they are forever grateful for the time they shared with Hugh and that his legacy will continue to live on.

“Hugh’s indelible and lasting legacy will be one of an invaluable contribution to the scientific understanding of manatee behavior and contributions to the conservation of his species,” Mote said. “Our team is forever grateful for the time we had with Hugh and his contribution to manatee conservation, and we are proud of our staff and volunteers for the level of care we provide to all the animals at Mote Aquarium.”

While this is an incredibly tough time for the aquarium and Hugh’s animal care team, Mote asks guests to remember Hugh’s incredible life by sharing their favorite memories of him on their Facebook page.

“Hugh was a beloved part of the Mote family and Sarasota/Manatee County community. We appreciate all the love and support as we collectively mourn his passing. Please join us in remembering Hugh’s incredible life by sharing your favorite memory of him,” Mote said in a statement.

Anyone wanting to comment and share their favorite memory of Hugh the manatee can do so on Mote’s Facebook page here.