TAMPA, Fla. - A female manatee, pulled from a Clearwater pond yesterday during a large rescue operation, passed away overnight. Officials at ZooTampa shared the news this morning, saying they were “deeply saddened” by the loss.
Kayakers had spotted the wounded female manatee in Stevenson Creek on Friday and called for help. Crews from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, ZooTampa, and Clearwater Marine Aquarium spent hours corralling the manatee while warding off hordes of suitors.
“She was alone when she was first reported, but the males had picked up on where she was and were trying to mate with her,” said Andy Garrett, FWC’s manatee rescue coordinator. “She had five or six adult males climbing on her trying to mate with her.”
It is manatee mating season, and Garrett said that could have made the manatee’s situation worse.
“This animal actually had some distress and potentially those males could have exhausted her to the point of dying,” said Garrett.
Rescuers used a specialized boat and then a bulldozer to hoist the 11-foot-long, 2,000-pound manatee from the water. She was taken to ZooTampa for treatment, suffering from a missing flipper, several gashes on her back, and an apparent infection – the result of multiple strikes from a boat, marine veterinarians said.
Despite the effort, the manatee died overnight. ZooTampa officials said this morning that her injuries were just too severe.
“We encourage everyone to be mindful of potential consequences of propeller strikes on wildlife while boating,” zoo spokesperson Andrea Alava added.
FWC’s number for reporting manatee incidents is 888-404-3922.