An orphaned infant manatee was rescued Saturday by Florida Keys-based marine mammal rescue volunteers in oceanside waters off Islamorada.
The lone calf was spotted beneath underwater rocks along a dock at a private residence, whose occupants reported the manatee sighting to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Staff from Dolphin Research Center’s Manatee Rescue Team and volunteers with Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder unit assisted to corral the calf with netting, allowing the rescuers to successfully scoop it from the water using a large hoop net.
The calf may have been without its mother for several days, an unusual amount of time for the pair to be separated, according to a DRC spokesperson. She did not know why the calf separated from her mom.
After the successful rescue, the FWC transported the calf to Miami Seaquarium for treatment and rehabilitation. A Seaquarium veterinarian advised early Sunday afternoon that the manatee was in “guarded condition.”
The small female is less than four feet long, considered underweight at 65.5 pounds and has been diagnosed with a bacterial infection. After initial evaluation and treatment, she was placed in a pool with an older orphaned female manatee and is reported to be sticking close to the older orphan’s side.
While the Florida Keys remain closed to visitors during the coronavirus crisis, the area’s many nature and wildlife rehabilitation centers continue caring for rescued wildlife and helping animals in need.