SeaWorld Orlando caring for male manatee rescued south of Jacksonville

Manatee spotted floating unusually high in water, believed to be suffering from boat strike injuries

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ORLANDO, Fla. - SeaWorld Orlando says it is now caring for an adult male manatee that was rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Thursday near Ponte Vedra, just south of Jacksonville.

The animal was spotted floating unusually high in the water and was believed to be suffering from boat strike injuries, among other ailments.

The nearly 10-foot-long manatee was taken to SeaWorld last night by FWC.

Upon arriving, the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team said it completed a full health assessment, fitted the manatee with a wet suit -- to assist in correcting buoyancy issues and help with surface breathing -- and began providing regular tube feedings.

The SeaWorld veterinary team said it performed a chest tap on Friday to release any trapped fluids or air that could be causing the animal to float abnormally and began administering antibiotics.

The 1,000-pound male is in guarded condition and will continue to receive around-the-clock care over the next few days, including regular tube feedings and antibiotic treatment. The team remains optimistic and said he will make a full recovery.

SeaWorld said a PIT tag allowed its Animal Rescue Team to identify the animal and learned that he had been rescued once before after becoming stranded near the Matanzas River in St. Johns County. This manatee and six others were assisted back to the water after getting stuck in a muddy oyster bed in April 2002.

PIT tags are small satellite transmitters the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses to identify and track individual animals in the wild. According to SeaWorld, information from these tags not only provides health information, but also gives findings on migration patterns and feeding areas, which can be used to designate manatee and wildlife refuges, allowing man and manatee to share the environment.

So far in 2013, SeaWorld says it has rescued 15 and returned 8 manatees back to their natural habitat.

If you see injured marine animal, you can help by calling the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.

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