TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A manatee impacted by the ongoing red tide bloom in the Tampa Bay area was recently rescued and is being treated at ZooTampa.
The manatee was rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Monday near Sarasota. It was taken to the zoo by Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.
The female manatee is the 23rd patient treated this year at the zoo’s manatee critical care center.
The manatee will be closely monitored with assisted respiration by an animal care team, as red tide impacts the animal’s breathing when they first reach the center.
“Red tide is caused by a species of algae that secretes a toxin that affects the nervous system. When ingested, it can cause seizures and paralysis in manatees who can drown because they cannot rise to the surface to breathe,” the press release states.
At the end of July, 8 On Your Side spoke with Dr. Cynthia Stringfield, the senior vice president of animal health, conservation and education, who confirmed the center was “almost,” at max capacity at the time.
The critical care center is already caring for red tide-affected “Idina,” who came to the site the night before Hurricane Elsa.
Dr. Stringfield said the zoo and its crews are “on call 24/7.”
Releases of manatees and other animals for all aquariums and agencies who assist are currently limited as red tide conditions are monitored throughout the state. Manatees are most often released where they were rescued.
In a record-breaking year for manatee deaths, as of July 23, the FWC reports 881 manatees have died in the state.
It is illegal to give manatees food, even lettuce. There are different ways for the public to help save these gentle giants here in Florida.
To report a distressed or dead manatee, Floridians and visitors can go online to the FWC website or call 888-404-FWCC. Cell phone users can also call #FWC or *FWC.