On Monday, October 2nd, Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ray Ball was called onsite from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to assess the health of a manatee in Safety Harbor. The manatee was found with a crab trap caught around her flipper.
A health assessment was performed and photos were taken for documentation. The FWC keeps a record of all manatees rescued, rehabbed and released for research and to track these manatees if they require critical care again.
First, Dr. Ball needed to evaluate if the manatee needed to be transported to the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center at the Zoo. Thanks to additional resources provided by the McCune Family Foundation, The McCann Foundation, and the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF), it was possible to evaluate a blood sample in the field and check for anemia. Thankfully, the blood sample revealed she was perfectly healthy and simply needed that crab trap off her flipper. A complete blood analysis performed later at the Catherine Straz Veterinary Hospital at TLPZ also confirmed this manatee to indeed be very fit.
After assessing her flipper, it was determined that amputation was the best solution for the welfare of this manatee. We know what you’re thinking, how can a manatee survive without a flipper? Manatees are extremely resilient and can actually survive with one flipper. There is even documentation of manatees in the wild without flippers.
Thanks to the great efforts from FWC, TLPZ and volunteers, this manatee was released back to Florida waters. TLPZ is always working to help wildlife in need - especially Florida’s rare native animals. Intervention in the field is yet another way we fulfill our mission to protect Florida wildlife. We pride ourselves in our efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release manatees at the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center with over 400 manatees cared for to date.
If you see distressed or injured manatees, please call the FWC hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).