Donations pour in for manatee research group to replace stolen canoe

Maiden voyage for new canoe at Blue Spring State Park

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORANGE CITY, Fla. - Crews with the Save the Manatee club were able to use a brand-new canoe to observe the manatees after the old canoe was stolen in January. 

"That was some quick results," manatee specialist Wayne Hartley said. "There's a lot of people who love the manatees and who couldn't imagine something like that happening." 

In January, the research canoe used by Save the Manatee club was stolen overnight, ripped off the railing where it was locked. 

"You don't really expect a research canoe with all that labeling on it to be stolen," Hartley said. "Normally we have a canoe chained up to the fence over here with a 4x4 post on the ground and it was gone." 

But it wasn't a surprise for Hartley that after the initial News 6 report, and after just one day of fundraising, the club had raised enough money for a new canoe. 

"Just a big thank you to everyone who was so happy and eager to help us get through this," he said.  

The new canoe is about 3 feet shorter than the old one and slightly wider. One of the ways this research canoe is helpful for the Save the Manatee club is when it comes to maneuvering around all sorts of trees. 

"You want to fight the wind, and you want to go around the tree limbs here to see the manatees," Hartley explained. 

Save the Manatee Club is a nonprofit group dedicated to manatee research and awareness. For more information about the group, visit

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