Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation & Release Operations
Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters is proud to be the only Manatee Rehabilitation facility in the Florida Keys. Working in coordination with multiple
agencies including U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Florida Fish & Wildlife, MRP, as well as numerous state and local organizations that it requires to render aid to
this vulnerable species. We are currently rehabbing juvenile manatees; we hope to release them back into the wild once they are healthy. These animals eat 10-20% of their body weight every day. For smaller manatees like those under our care, that is over 100 pounds of lettuce per animal per day! We are grateful to further assist this iconic Florida mammal as a rehabilitation facility and look forward to widening our positive impact on the species.”
Two manatee releases after successful rehabilitation. (pictured left)
Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters has been honored to offer assistance to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in rescue and release efforts for Florida Manatees throughout the Florida Keys. The manatee is an iconic species inhabiting the coastal and inland waterways of Florida.
They can reach lengths of over 14 feet and weights of over 3,000 pounds. The Florida Manatee is a subspecies of the West Indian Manatee which until recently was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Due to their slow speed and relatively high buoyancy, manatees are often struck by vessels or tangled in fishing nets and/or line.
Manatees have historically sheltered in Florida’s numerous natural springs to keep warm in the winter months. Human development has eliminated many of these past habitats and created new artificially warm waters in the runoff from power plants, altering natural manatee
Assisting in the capture and removal of line entanglement on a manatees pectoral fin.
The active rescue operations of FWC working. (pictured right)
In coordination with multiple organizations including Aquarium Encounters has made an impact in down listing the manatee from endangered to threatened.
The other major contributor to the success of the manatee’s population rebound is the awareness of the plight of the species. These gentle giants are particularly vulnerable to human activities and it is up to all of us to be informed.
If you spot a manatee in distress please call FWC at 1-888-404-3922. While it is unfortunate that rescues are necessary, we look forward to providing aid to these majestic creatures whenever and wherever the need arises.