Mote, FWC, ZooTampa team up to rescue 2 cold-stressed manatees in Sarasota waterways

Local News

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Two cold-stressed manatees are being cared for after being rescued from Sarasota-area waterways this week.

Mote Marine Laboratory, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and ZooTampa teamed up to rescue the mammals.

On Jan. 12, biologists from Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program were called by FWC to respond to a call about a manatee in a residential canal connected to Philippi Creek.

When biologists arrived, they noticed the manatee had signs of cold stress and di not seem to be able to leave the canal.

Credit: Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

The water was reported to be around 67 degrees, below the threshold of tolerance for manatees, so a rescue began.

The subadult female manatee is a little over 6 feet long. She was safely netted and was taken onto the shore, then transferred into a transport truck.

The manatee was taken to ZooTampa’s manatee critical care center.

Two days later on Jan. 14, Mote biologists responded to a report of a manatee in Whitaker Bayou near downtown Sarasota.

The manatee had been reported by residents along the water.

The animal also showed signs of cold stress and FWC and Mote again worked together to capture the manatee and transport it to ZooTampa for rehabilitation.

Credit: Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Though they may be large, manatees do not have a layer of blubber and can’t tolerate water temperatures that drop below 68-72 degrees.

If a manatee is not able to seek warmer water, such as the warm water outflow of the TECO Power Plant in Apollo Beach, they become cold stressed.

Signs of cold stress include white lesions on the manatee’s skin, which begin around its face wrinkles, nostrils and the edges of its paddles and flippers. The lesions can worsen, leading to infection and can lead to death.

If you see a dead, stranded, injured or manatee in distress and are in Sarasota or Manatee counties, call Mote’s hotline at 888-345-2335. For all other areas in Florida, call FWC at 888-404-3922, *FWC or #FWC.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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