After 3 1/2 months of rehabilitation, a juvenile male manatee was returned to Florida Keys waters Thursday by marine mammal specialists from Dolphin Research Center, Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters and the Miami Seaquarium.
DRC’s Manatee Rescue Team along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Keys Aquarium Encounters and local residents rescued the manatee last October in Big Pine Key. The manatee had been observed with buoyancy issues and was unable to stay submerged. Later named Waterbear, he was transported to the Seaquarium where it was confirmed he suffered from gastrointestinal issues.
Following initial treatment, he was transported to SeaWorld in Orlando to complete rehabilitation.
At his release, Waterbear weighed 395 pounds and measured approximately 6 feet, 8 inches in length. The release group carried him on a stretcher down a boat ramp and cheered when he swam away.