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Pregnant manatee gives birth after Mother's Day weekend rescue

On Saturday, a Mote Marine biologist and Sarasota Police Department officer responded to a call about a distressed manatee near Harbor Towns Yacht & Racquet Club on Siesta Key, according to the lab. (Photo: Mote Marine Lab)
On Saturday, a Mote Marine biologist and Sarasota Police Department officer responded to a call about a distressed manatee near Harbor Towns Yacht & Racquet Club on Siesta Key, according to the lab. (Photo: Mote Marine Lab)(WCTV)
Published: May. 12, 2020 at 12:10 PM EDT
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By: Pat Mueller | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 12, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. (WCTV) — A pregnant manatee in critical condition was able to give birth to a healthy calf Tuesday after she was rescued over Mother's Day weekend, the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium says.

On Saturday, a Mote Marine biologist and Sarasota Police Department officer responded to a call about a distressed manatee near Harbor Towns Yacht & Racquet Club on Siesta Key, according to the lab.

The manatee was showing abnormal behavior, like not being able to dive properly. The biologist recognized the manatee as one she had received calls about and searched for the day before, so she quickly contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to begin the rescue.

“Immediately, I noticed that the manatee was listing to one side, and had both healed and fresh boat strike wounds,” said Mote Marine Lab biologist Jess Blackburn. “Those kinds of wounds likely caused air to be trapped in the manatee’s chest cavity, making it difficult for the animal to submerge efficiently. Given the busy area and heavy boat traffic, we knew it would be very difficult for her to avoid any other potential boat collisions.”

The lab says FWC led the rescue effort after its initial response. Trained responders from the lab, SPD and Sarasota County Sheriff's Office all went to the scene to help the manatee.

The nearly 1,700 pound manatee was safely netted onto a boat, put into a transport truck and taken to SeaWorld Orlando, one of four critical care facilities for manatees in the state of Florida, for rehabilitation.

“We hate to see injured wildlife in our waterways but we’re hoping this team effort was enough to help give this manatee a second chance,” said SPD officer Michael Skinner.

Denise Boyd, a marine mammal research associate with FWC, said it was an amazing opportunity to rescue an expectant mother manatee on Mother's Day weekend.

“They are being taken care of by the animal care team at SeaWorld Orlando, and we are hopeful for a successful outcome," Boyd said. "This rescue highlights the partnerships that are critical in manatee conservation efforts."

Boyd also said to remember to wear polarized glasses and be on the lookout for manatees while boating.

"Please report dead or distressed marine mammals to allow trained experts to respond,” she said.

On Tuesday, the manatee gave birth to a healthy calf at SeaWorld Orlando, where the rehab team is continuing to monitor both animals around the clock, according to the lab.

The lab says the mother manatee is being treated for her injuries, and although stable, she is still in critical condition.

This is the 17th manatee to be treated at SeaWorld in 2020.

Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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