Posts tagged ‘rescue’

August 23, 2011

More On that Penguin Spill in 2000

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August 12, 2011

Manatee Release Photos Part II

FWC posted a few more fantastic photos from yesterday’s release of a four year old male at Kars Park in Merritt Island, FL.  In them you can easily view the panel truck that SeaWorld Orlando uses for transport of injured and rehabilitated manatees (note the extensive styrofoam padding) and get a sense of the overall procedure for releases.   You can also see in a few photos where the FWC biologists do last minute health checks to ensure the patient is ready and rarin’ to go and to do finalized photographs of scar patterns for future identification purposes.

In some cases released manatees are tagged with satellite trackers so that movements can be detected.  The belt is worn at the tail stalk where the paddle meets the body.  This individual doesn’t appear to be carrying one.

Also, I see some familiar faces from the SeaWorld crowd in these photos!  The Animal Care team pictured here represents decades worth of vested time and experience in caring for marine mammals.  And they’re all quite fabulous off the clock as well.  Cheers again for both teams’ hard work in the hot sun!

August 11, 2011

Another Manatee Rehab’d and Released


In other FWC related news today, staff biologists and SeaWorld’s Animal Care team were able to successfully release an adult manatee back into the wild near Merritt Island. The manatee in question had been brought in last winter during a cold snap after observation it had symptoms of cold stress and needed assistance.

Congratulations to both teams involved and especially those fantastic folks at SeaWorld who work so hard to rehabilitate these animals throughout the year.

June 23, 2011

Amber is a Momma!

When I worked with SeaWorld Orlando the fabulous animal care staff were constantly busy with orphaned and injured manatees behind the scenes.  A few that were considered more long-term patients were frequently added to the main exhibit space within the park, a spot where I spent many hours and even one New Years Eve.  (I was even known to sing to them on late nights when there weren’t any guests around.)

In my three years with the aquarium several manatees came and went out of the exhibit space and the hospital back areas, particularly several dozen orphaned calves.  As you might expect, orphaned manatee calves are delicate, require constant care, and they don’t always thrive well enough for eventual release back into the wild.

Amber was quite the exception.  She came in from Blue Springs State Park to SeaWorld Orlando several years ago after her mother and twin sister left her behind at the freshwater spring.  While manatees do occasionally give birth to twins, the females as a rule only care for one offspring.  It’s thought their relatively low-energy diet only allows them to sustain a milk supply for one calf.  Amber was rescued by SeaWorld at 68 pounds and 3.5ft in length.

For several months she was nursed on a replacement milk diet by the staff, then coaxed onto romaine, spinach, and lettuce, and finally received the go-ahead after several years from Florida Fish and Wildlife for release back in February 2009. While Rita, the much older manatee released at the same time didn’t make it, Amber has steadily adapted to her wild environment in central Florida’s lakes and marshes.  She sticks primarily to the Blue Springs area, Lake Woodruff, Lake Dexter, and the outflows of the St. Johns River.  She’s frequently seen socializing with other manatees, including several other SeaWorld-veterans, and at some points she’s also been mating with these other manatees!

In January 2010 we suffered weeks of extremely cold weather in Florida forcing rescues of several manatees and hundreds of sea turtles around the state.  At that time Amber gave birth prematurely to a calf that ultimately did not make it.   Luckily, not too long after she successfully mated again and brought the latest pregnancy all the way to term (about a year).  Amber showed up to Blue Springs State Park last week with a brand new calf, born on June 13th!

I’m very excited about this birth announcement and I know SeaWorld, the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership, and Sea to Shore will all share a certain sense of pride and cautious optimism about this new life.  Keep your fingers crossed that Amber’s natural maternal instincts can kick into full gear and raise this calf.

Oh, and if you happen to be a central Florida native, get in touch with me if you’re interested in volunteering to help watch Amber and her calf in the busy spring.  As an orphan that grew up around people she’s not shy about approaching visitors.. not exactly a good thing!  State park personnel, as well as all the marine conservation groups involved, want to assure that Amber can bond with the baby through the first few critical weeks in a safe and calm environment.



June 22, 2011

Turtle Release! And You Can Help!

Calling all central-Florida-sea-turtle-lovers! The Sea Turtle Preservation Society just announced an upcoming release of 32 juvenile loggerhead turtles into the Indian River Lagoon on Monday, June 27th.  Do you want to view the action and/or participate?  You can!

The juvenile turtles were previously part of the National Marine Fisheries Service TED (turtle excluder device) certification trials and are now ready to head back to the wild.  NMFS’ Ben Higgins is hosting the release.

Where to go:

Head on down to Melbourne and pickup coastal highway A1A.  Drive south, passing a great deal of very charming mailboxes with awesome island themes, until you come all the way down to Sebastian Inlet State Park.  Continue about one mile further south of the inlet and find a spot on the Lagoon side (not the ocean side!) to park.  This is the site of the release.


June 27th, Monday, bright and early!  The release is schedule for 8a.m. and NMFS is asking that volunteers arrive no later than 7:45a.m.  And yes, this is rain or shine!

Do I need to bring anything?

Yes!  If you’re interested in assisting you MUST bring water shoes that are closed toe and clothing for getting wet.  You’ll be waist-deep in the IRL’s waters for the actual release.  I’d say sunscreen, hats, water, and towels are also good bets.  It’s a long drive down to the inlet on A1A with few pitstops for food and water, although the early morning time will make the release much more enjoyable.  Bring your mosquito repellant too!

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make this event personally but if you do go take some photos!  You could be a guest blogger on WaterNotes!

May 30, 2011

Memorial Day With Pilots.. Whales!

Now this is how you spend a Memorial Day! The Marine Mammal Conservancy, along with dozens of volunteers including some from our armed forces, continues to care for three pilot whales at their center in the Keys.  Over twenty pilots stranded back on May 5th.

On the sad side: MMC had to euthanize one of the pilots R-303, last Wednesday as her condition had reached a point of no return.  On the positive side: R-302 is listed in critical condition, R-301 in guarded condition, and the little calf R-300 is reportedly in stable condition at this time.  MMC expects to continue to require volunteer help and financial assistance to care for these whales for several months to come.  (I’ve given you a full breakdown of their needed list of supplies.  Please do consider contributing if you have the time or the means!)

MMC also has a good update on the two pilot whales that were released earlier this month, Y-400 and Y-404.  Both whales continue to travel together and, as you can see from the satellite markers, are currently traveling several hundreds miles off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.  The biologists with the Conservancy as well as the Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program and Mote Marine Laboratory will monitor their tags to try to learn as much as they can from these released whales and hopefully track their progress as well as learn traveling and diving habits.

If you’re planning a trip to the Keys this summer, consider stopping in at MMC and donating a few hours of time! You don’t need any special training and a four hour commitment will probably change your life as well as improve the chances for the pilots and help the MMC!