ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - At SeaWorld, 10 manatees from both Charlotte and Collier counties are receiving care, treated for illness due to a red tide outbreak along the Gulf Coast.
It's like an ER for the sick sea cows. We talked to SeaWorld Rescue Operations Manager Jon Peterson, who says the algae bloom is making the manatees ill, at an alarming rate.
"I know that animal's gonna be lethargic, I know that animal's going to be pretty much eyes closed, comatose, when it shows up to me," he says. "They are inhaling the fumes or the gas of the red tide, they're eating the vegetation in the red tide and they're swimming in the water covered in red tide. All three of that together, is a perfect formula to kill."
But rescuers at both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and SeaWorld hustle to save them.
"Our teams are working around the clock to get fluids into them, to get medication to reverse that revo toxin."
Getting them in fresh water, with fresh air and food helps them come back to life.
"The great part of my job is... I get to see that animal come alive again."
He thinks the manatees could be healthy enough to leave in the next week or too, but that may not happen
"The problem is we can't do that. This red tide is staying on our coastal waters."
Peterson says he has additional pools ready to go if more manatees come in needing care.
"They're coming in at a pretty staggering rate. The bigger problem is, they're dying at a staggering rate too. This red tide is having a huge effect on not just manatees, birds, turtles, fish. Our entire ecosystem over there is getting hit by it."
Peterson says, the manatees must return back to Southest Florida, because the water in the Atlantic would be too cold for them. All they can do is wait for the red tide to lift.