SIESTA KEY, Fla. (WFLA) – A manatee gave birth to a healthy calf after she was rescued in Siesta Key over the weekend.
The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium said the manatee was spotted in distress near Harbor Towers Yacht & Racquet Club on Saturday, and that the animal was exhibiting abnormal behavior, including not being able to dive properly.
Mote’s stranding biologist Jess Blackburn and Sarasota police marine patrol Officer Michael Skinner came to the scene and noticed the animal had been injured.
“Immediately, I noticed that the manatee was listing to one side, and had both healed and fresh boat strike wounds,” said Blackburn. “Those kinds of wounds likely caused air to be trapped in the manatee’s chest cavity, making it difficult for the animal to submerge efficiently. Given the busy area and heavy boat traffic, we knew it would be very difficult for her to avoid any other potential boat collisions.”
After calling in the FWC, they were able to safely net the animal and transfer her from a boat into a transport truck. The animal was taken to SeaWorld Orlando and gave birth to a healthy calf on Tuesday.
The mother manatee is still being treated for her injuries and is in critical, but stable condition.
“It was an amazing opportunity to rescue, along with partners from Mote, FWC law enforcement, Sarasota Police Department and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, an expectant mother manatee on Mother’s Day weekend,” said Denise Boyd, Marine Mammal Research Associate at FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “They are being taken care of by the animal care team at SeaWorld Orlando, and we are hopeful for a successful outcome. This rescue highlights the partnerships that are critical in manatee conservation efforts. Please remember to wear polarized glasses and be on the lookout for manatees while boating. Please report dead or distressed marine mammals to allow trained experts to respond.”