Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Manatee Release - Jasmine!

Members of DRC's Manatee Rescue Team (gray shirts)
and staff from the FWC and MSQ check out Jasmine prior to her release.
In March, we told you about Jasmine, an injured manatee found in the Key Largo-Tavernier area that was successfully rescued by Dolphin Research Center’s Manatee Rescue Team and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).  She received excellent treatment and rehabilitation for four months at Miami Seaquarium (MSQ).  Her internal injuries caused air to leak into her body cavity with led to increased buoyancy that prevented her from staying submerged for any length of time.  In Miami Seaquarium’s care, she received antibiotics to ward off infection and was carefully monitored while the air gradually dissipated from her body.  Completely healed and with no further buoyancy issues, Jasmine was deemed releasable.

On July 17, 2012, members of DRC’s Manatee Rescue Team traveled to Plantation Key Colony to assist with Jasmine’s release.  At approximately 2 p.m., Miami Seaquarium's crew and the FWC rolled into a community park on Jasmine Street, near where Jasmine was originally rescued.  The truck carrying the now-recovered manatee carefully backed towards a boat ramp, so that she could be carried into the water by the rescue crew.

Before being put back into the water, the Seaquarium team sprayed her down with water to keep her cool. Then, Jasmine was checked over one last time by medical personnel before she was ready to go home. In our experience, most manatees prefer to lie on their stomachs but Jasmine was unique and rolled onto her back whenever she was given the chance.  Since she was obviously comfortable, the release crew allowed her to relax in that position as they carried her in a soft stretcher.

It took more than ten rescuers to move the 900 pound manatee off the truck, to the boat ramp, and into the bay. More than 20 bystanders watched while several people took photographs or filmed footage of the event.  We took the opportunity to distribute brochures with information on how the public can help protect manatees from danger as well as magnets with the telephone number people should call when they see a manatee in distress.

FWC Manatee biologist John Cassady and an MSQ staff member
 look on while Jasmine swims out of the stretcher into the water!
As Jasmine made her way off of the stretcher and into the bay, her audience cheered and clapped. Seeing a manatee successfully released back into the water after being injured is a rewarding part of being a member of the rescue crew. We wish Jasmine the best and hope boaters will exercise caution when they are in areas that are homes to our flippered friends.

Remember that manatee injuries are preventable. When boating, slow down when you're in an area inhabited by manatees. Prevent entanglement by properly discarding fishing lines and crab traps. Even if a manatee approaches you, do not give them food or try to pet them. It can be detrimental to the manatee population to seek out human interaction.

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. Thanks to your support, we were able to help rescue Jasmine so that she could receive the care she needed to be rehabilitated.  Thank you!