Two manatees rescued by Florida Keys-based marine mammal rescue volunteers were returned to Florida Keys waters Wednesday.
“Spookey” was rescued in the Upper Keys in October 2019 after a boat strike severely injured her tail. In February 2020, “Scott” was discovered with a flipper entangled in monofilament fishing line. Both mammals were rehabilitated at Miami Seaquarium.
Staff from Dolphin Research Center’s licensed Manatee Rescue Team, and volunteers with Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder and Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, assisted with the rescues and helped with the releases.
Although the Florida Keys remain closed to visitors until June 1, the destination’s many nature and wildlife rehabilitation centers have continued caring for rescued wildlife and helping animals in need during the coronavirus crisis.
“Even during the pandemic, we still have to help wildlife, so we’re out here rescuing any injured manatees and releasing them as soon as they’re healed and ready to go back out,” said Amber Howell, a marine mammals research associate with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Manatee sightings are normally first reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. If any Florida boaters or residents encounter an injured manatee, they are advised to call the FWC’s 24-hour hotline at 888-404-3922.
Recreational boaters can help lessen their impact on this threatened species by staying out of shallow waters and seagrass beds where manatees feed, as well as wearing polarized sunglasses to help see manatees and their footprint, a small swirl in the water behind where the manatee is swimming.