Grassy Key… Dolphin Research Center (DRC), Licensed Manatee Rescue Team for the Florida Keys, is asking the public to help find a badly entangled manatee. The manatee, named Scott, has mounds of monofilament fishing line wrapped around and embedded in both of his pectoral flippers. The animal is approximately 9 to11 feet long and was recently spotted in the Marathon area, although he often travels throughout the Florida Keys in winter months. Anyone who sees Scott should immediately call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) at 1-888-404-3922 to report his location. DRC’s trained team will then attempt to outfit him with a belt and tracking tag so that a rescue mission can be coordinated.
Rescuing a manatee is a complicated process that often takes days or even weeks. Many factors come into play including whether the animal is in an area where it can be netted and brought onto the boat for assessment and transport. Weather, the availability of limited resources, and other things may also impact when a rescue can be tried. Often officials must wait for optimal conditions, which is frustrating for them as well as the public that observes the manatee. Fortunately, Scott’s condition isn’t life-threatening and he is fully mobile. However, as the entanglement worsens, it can create complications including self-amputation of the pectoral flippers, infection and other problems. So, assessing him is a priority.
Anyone who sees Scott should not attempt to assist him themselves or cut away any of the entangled line. Properly helping a manatee in distress requires training and experience to minimize risk of injury to the person assisting as well as to the animal. Identifying the location, including GPS coordinates if available, and contacting the FWCC with the timely information, is the best help that the public can provide.