YouTube download / AP video / (30 Jan 2019) Low water temperatures are having an effect on Florida's manatee population. A 725-pound sub-adult male suffering from symptoms of cold stress and dehydration was rescued and is being treated at SeaWorld's critical care animal hospital in Orlando.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- With extremely cold temperatures sweeping across the US, animal rescue groups here in East Central Florida are beginning to see the impact of cold water temps on the manatee population.
One such manatee, a 725 pound sub-adult male, was rescued by Florida Fish and Wildlife, Sea2Shore and a local chapter of the Save the Manatee Club in Lake Griffin, near Eustis on Tuesday. Manatees can develop hypothermia, or what is known as "cold shock", when they are exposed to very cold water.
The manatee was transported to SeaWorld's critical care animal hospital in Orlando after a field assessment, where veterinarians started medical treatment and rehabilitation including antibiotics, fluids and other supportive care to combat symptoms of cold stress and dehydration.
“Even here in Florida, local water temperatures are starting to drop below 68 degrees, which is the threshold for manatees to survive,” said Jon Peterson, SeaWorld Orlando’s manager of rescue operations told Headline Surfer and other media outlets. “Manatees need warm water, and when temperatures drop they are at a high risk of succumbing to the cold.”
At least 35 manatees died a year ago in January from a Florida cold spell compared to seven such deaths during the same time period in 2017, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Last year, SeaWorld's rescue team assisted with a record number 72 manatees that suffered from a variety of ailments, including cold stress, red tide, and fishnet entanglements.
If you see a dead manatee or a manatee in distress, please call the FWC’s wildlife alert number 888-404-FWCC (3922). For more information on SeaWorld's animal rescue team, please visit seaworldentertainment.com.