JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A manatee injured Wednesday afternoon in the Mayport area was rescued by Florida wildlife officers and a crew from the Jacksonville Zoo, but it did not survive its injuries.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the female manatee was taken to the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens rehabilitation facility.
FWC captured a photo of the manatee in the water and then on the rescue boat. They said it was about 9.5 feet long.
FWC's manatee biologist commended the efforts of the zoo's crew and volunteers who tried to save the injured sea cow.
Late Wednesday, the zoo said this was the second recent boat strike of a manatee and urged those boating over the Fourth of July holiday weekend to keep a watchful eye out for the slow-moving sea creatures and always idle through posted manatee zones.
“Summertime is both a busy season for boaters and, sadly, our Manatee Critical Care Center,” said Craig Miller, Jacksonville Zoo's curator of mammals and leader of the Marine Mammal Response Team. “A record number of 119 Florida manatees were killed in 2018 due to boat strikes and this year is shaping up to be an even larger number."
Though recently downlisted from endangered to threatened status, manatees are still federally protected and relatively rare. They face constant dangers from boat strikes, drowning from entanglement, illness from pollution and cold stress.
The zoo encourages anyone that sees an injured marine animal to call the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922 or by dial *FWC on any cell phone.