KEY COLONY BEACH, Fla. – Three manatees who spent months in the care of specialists at SeaWorld Orlando after being rescued are back home in the Florida Keys.
The three adult male manatees were returned to a canal on Tuesday.
The manatees were each rescued in April, June and July. One suffered from a boat strike that caused a skull fracture, another was severely emaciated, and a third was treated for dehydration and inflammation.
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SeaWorld crews spent several months caring for the manatees, removing bone fragments and providing antibiotics and nutritional support.
In Florida, manatees are experiencing an Unusual Mortality Event caused in part by the dying off of seagrass in the Indian River Lagoon.
So far this year, 749 manatees have been killed. In 2021, 1,027 manatees were killed.
The high mortality rate in the last two years has led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and manatee conservation groups to take extra measures to try and help the manatees.
So far 98 manatees have been rescued this year by the FWC for issues ranging from boat strikes to fishing equipment entanglement to natural issues, compared to 159 rescued in all of 2021. Some showed signs of starvation.
SeaWorld built extra tanks at its Orlando theme park to help rehabilitate more manatees.
FWC and USFWS are planning to once again open a feeding station at the FPL power plant in Brevard County to help feed manatees lettuce in the winter months, which was done last year. FWC approved a no-entry zone at the plant to protect the manatees on Tuesday.
FWC expects they may be providing help to the manatees for years to come.
If you see a manatee who is hurt, sick or otherwise needs help, call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s wildlife hotline at 888-404-3922.
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