Manatee research canoe stolen from Blue Spring State Park

Nonprofit raises money for new canoe

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORANGE CITY, Fla. - A manatee research canoe went missing at Blue Spring State Park sometime during the second weekend in January after it was ripped from the railing where it was tied up.

"There was no railing where it had been wired or locked in," said manatee specialist Wayne Hartley with the nonprofit Save the Manatee. "It was just gone." 

Day in and day out, Hartley and others members of Save the Manatee go up and down the spring run at Blue Spring State Park, identifying and counting the manatees. 

Hartley said he was shocked when he saw someone had taken the canoe off the railing it was tied to. 

"You paddle among the manatees, identify as many as you can, you get a count of how many there are, and you come back and chain your canoe back up," he said. "But there was no canoe." 

The nonprofit was able to get a replacement canoe donated to them, which gets the job done as best as it can. 

"The seats aren't quite what we'd like to have," Hartley said. "If you're going to be out there for two to five hours, you'd like to be a little bit comfortable while you're out there."

That's why the nonprofit is hoping to raise a little more than $1,000 to get a new canoe in the event the old one never comes back. 

If you'd like to donate money for the new canoe, click here.

Copyright 2018 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.