The Associated Press
A manatee rescued from Alabama’s Magnolia River is recovering at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.
The young female, which weighed 780 pounds when she arrived late Sunday, has been tube-fed water and electrolytes, and began showing interest in food Tuesday, SeaWorld veterinarian Stacy DiRocco said.
If she doesn’t start eating enough on her own, DiRocco said, the big marine mammal will be tube-fed spinach, romaine lettuce and monkey chow mixed with water in a blender. “Once the manatees start eating on their own, we feed them mostly romaine lettuce,” she said.
She said the manatee is probably 4 to 6 years old. In addition to signs of hypothermia, she also had two deep cuts from a boat propeller, DiRocco said. Those were cleaned with antibiotics and are being treated with honey.
People around Magnolia Springs, Alabama, are watching for two other manatees also seen Sunday in a relatively warm spot where three springs converge, said Ruth Carmichael, a scientist at Alabama’s Dauphin Island Sea Lab who also runs a manatee-sighting network for Alabama and Mississippi.
“We haven’t given up on them. But we can’t be on the water every day in that location,” she said.
A female manatee was hauled out of the same area on New Year’s Day but died on the way to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida, Carmichael said.
“Four animals in the same area at the same time — that’s huge” for a state where perhaps 20 to 30 manatees live during the peak season and another 60 to 70 may stop over on their way further west for the summer, she said.
Alabama had never before tried to rescue a manatee, Carmichael said, noting that one washed ashore in Mobile Bay in 2010 too sick to try to save.
The New Year’s Day female weighed less than 700 pounds — very low for a manatee — and had three palm-sized raw lesions and many small ones on her body, she said.
DiRocco said another six cold-stressed manatees rescued in December — one from Georgia and the rest from Jacksonville, Florida — are among 10 to 15 of the big marine mammals being rehabilitated at SeaWorld.
Manatee Sighting Network: http://manatee.disl.org/
SeaWorld animal rescue: http://bit.ly/1Bwop3a
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas rescue: http://bit.ly/1s2S2al