ORLANDO, Fla. – An injured pregnant manatee was rescued by crews from a Tampa Bay area marine laboratory and taken to SeaWorld in Orlando for treatment, officials said in a news release.
The manatee gave birth to a calf on Tuesday at SeaWorld, the statement said.
Jess Blackburn, a stranding biologist at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, and Sarasota police marine patrol officer Michael Skinner responded to calls about a distressed manatee on Saturday in Siesta Key.
She noticed the manatee was listing to one side and had both healed and fresh boat strike wounds, Blackburn said in the news release.
“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,"she said.
Crews from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Mote, Sarasota police and the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office assisted in getting the manatee into a boat, which took it to shore, where a transport truck took it to SeaWorld.
During an exam at SeaWorld, officials discovered the manatee was pregnant, and it gave birth on Tuesday. The rehabilitation team at SeaWorld is monitoring the mother and baby. The mother is also being treated for her injuries.
SeaWorld’s Manatee Rehabilitation Center is one of four in Florida designated for critical care of manatees. John Peterson, vice president of zoological operations, said this is the 17th manatee to be treated there this year.