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Cold-stressed manatees rescued from Phillippi Creek, Whitaker Bayou

This week, Mote and FWC rescued two manatees from Sarasota, and both animals were taken to ZooTampa for rehab

It was a busy week for the rescue and rehab teams from three southwest Florida organizations as they came together to rescue not just one—but two—cold stressed manatees from Sarasota-area waterways.

A team effort, x2:

On Jan. 12, 2021, biologists from Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s Stranding Investigations Program were called upon by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to respond to a call about a manatee in a residential canal connected to nearby Philippi Creek. Upon arrival, the team noticed the animal had signs of cold stress (see link below) and seemed unable to exit the canal. Given that the water was about 67 degrees Fahrenheit, below the threshold of tolerance for manatees, a rescue was deemed necessary.

After Mote’s initial response, FWC led the rescue effort to assist the manatee. A subadult female, she was a little over 6 feet long. The manatee was safely netted onto the shore and transferred into a transport truck that headed for ZooTampa’s David A Straz, Jr Manatee Critical Care Center, one of four critical care facilities for manatees in the state of Florida and a member of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP).

Just two days later, a similar situation played out, as Mote biologists respond to a manatee in Whitaker Bayou near downtown Sarasota. This animal had been reported by residents along the water. The manatee also showed signs of cold stress, and again FWC and Mote worked together to capture the manatee and transport it to ZooTampa for rehabilitation.

“As soon as we responded to both these animals, we could tell they were exhibiting signs of cold stress, and we measured water temperature to confirm that it was below their minimum temperature threshold,&r