Tuesday, March 20, 2012

DRC Helps Rescue Injured Manatee

A manatee injured by a boat in the Florida Keys is now receiving treatment for her injuries thanks to Dolphin Research Center’s Manatee Rescue Team and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). On Friday, March 16th, the female manatee was rescued near Jasmine Street in Key Largo.

Manatee assessors from DRC had gone out to observe the animal for a few days prior to her rescue. On Thursday, March 15th, Medical Director Pat Clough and veterinarian Dr. Mike Renner went by boat to get a good look at her injuries and her movement. With the cuts on her back from a propeller and buoyancy issues that made her “ride high” in the water and compromised her mobility, they reported to the FWC that she should be rescued.

The following morning, DRC's rescue team deployed, traveling to mile marker 90 to meet with manatee biologists from the FWC and launch the rescue mission. They found the manatee in the same area where she had previously been spotted and cautiously approached.

With the FWC's John Cassady at the helm, the rescue boat slowly approached Jasmine. In this picture, you can see the cuts on her side as she dives below the water's surface.

Not knowing the full extent of the internal injuries she might have suffered, the crew hoped to achieve the rescue without multiple net sets and stress on the animal. With excellent timing, they encircled her with the net and were able to safely bring her aboard the rescue boat.

Dubbed Jasmine by the rescue crew after the street near where she was rescued, she was examined on the boat and then carefully lifted into the FWC's truck.

DRC and FWC personnel examine Jasmine and remove the net.

DRC Medical Director Pat Clough (kneeling) and Senior Medical Technician Tanya Manchester keep an eye on Jasmine, spraying her down with water, prior to her transport to Miami Seaquarium.

From the scene, she was then transported to Miami Seaquarium for treatment and rehabilitation. Antibiotics have been administered to ward off infection and staff report that she is eating well and socializing with other manatees in her pool. Her condition will be carefully assessed as she continues to heal. When she is deemed completely recovered from her injuries, she will be transported back to the Florida Keys and released.

According to marine mammal medical personnel and manatee biologists, the animal may have suffered an internal injury to its lung which permitted air to leak into the body cavity. This trapped air increases the buoyancy of the manatee which can make it more difficult for the animal to stay submerged beneath the water’s surface and dive to the sea grass beds to feed. X-rays will determine whether any of the manatee’s ribs were broken by the boat strike.

“Jasmine is fortunate that area residents saw her injuries and alerted authorities so that she could be rescued and helped,” said DRC’s Chief Operating Officer Armando “Mandy” Rodriguez. “She serves as a strong reminder for all boaters to pay attention to posted slow speed zones and be aware of manatees in our local waters.” Licensed by the federal government, Dolphin Research Center’s manatee rescue team responds to calls about injured, entangled, ill or orphaned manatees from Key Largo to Key West.

The veterinarian and staff of Miami Seaquarium will provide Jasmine with excellent care while she is in residence. We'll keep in touch to get updates about her condition. We're all thrilled that we were able to help this injured animal and are very optimistic that she will make a full recovery.

As you know, DRC is a nonprofit organization. All of our mission-based activities, including our manatee rescue efforts, are funded by admission and program fees as well as by private donors and members. Many thanks to all of you for your support. With your help, Jasmine has been given a terrific chance. We'll keep you posted on her progress!