SeaWorld rescues distressed manatee from South Carolina community

SeaWorld Orlando said that on Friday, they teamed up with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the National Marine Mammal Foundation to help a distressed manatee.

They said that the manatee was found in an enclosed community in Palmetto Dunes Resort on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The organizations worked together to help rescue the manatee.

The manatee reportedly weighs 865 pounds and is about 261 centimeters long. It is suffering from minor skin abrasions and is slightly underweight. She was relocated to SeaWorld Orlando for a full health assessment and rehabilitation before being returned to the wild.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is extremely appreciative of the efforts of Sea World, Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, and the other conservation partners from South Carolina to Florida who stepped up quickly to help this young female manatee in need.  As a result of their efforts, this manatee will get a second chance to contribute to the wild population following rehabilitation," US Fish and Wildlife Service Florida Manatee Recovery Lead Teresa Calleson said.

Andrew Schumacher, the CEO of Palmetto Dunes POA, said that "When we found the manatee had navigated into our lagoon system and was not able to find its way back to the ocean, we immediately contacted DNR for assistance. We were fortunate that the rescue teams were able to quickly respond and rescue the manatee."

SeaWorld Orlando added that the Florida manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality. For example, exposure to red tide, cold stress, and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or lacks, and entrapment or entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.

If you see an injured marine animal, you can help by the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922. 

This story was written in Orlando, Florida.