Jacksonville Zoo nursing manatee injured in boat strike

Juvenile manatee rescued by FWC staff with help from the Volusia County volunteers.
Juvenile manatee rescued by FWC staff with help from the Volusia County volunteers. (Photos by Bill Greer/FWC and Chad Murch, Volusia County Marine Mammal Stranding Team.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A female manatee rescued after an apparent boat strike in Daytona Beach is being rehabilitated at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ Manatee Critical Care Center.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescued the manatee with the help of the Volusia County Marine Mammal Stranding Team after citizens made several reports of a manatee being excessively buoyant, meaning floating higher than normal at the surface of the water. The injured manatee arrived at the zoo on Saturday

Zookeepers said her injuries include a wound across her back, fractured ribs and a partially collapsed lung.

“The injury to the manatee’s lung has caused air to be trapped in her body cavity, keeping her buoyant on her left side. Her condition is guarded, but she has a good appetite, which is normally a positive sign,” said Craig Miller, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ curator of mammals. “Our vet team is working to alleviate the trapped air and our husbandry staff is monitoring her closely and keeping sunscreen on her skin that is raised out of the water.”

Animal care staff estimates the manatee is 3 to 4 years old.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ Manatee Critical Care Center is the zoo’s largest regional conservation initiative, caring for 23 manatees since the center opened in 2017.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, along with other zoos, aquariums, non-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies, comprise the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership and work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at manateerescue.org.

Florida manatees are a federally-protected threatened species, at significant risk from both natural and human threats. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, disease, boat strikes, crushing by floodgates and locks, line entanglement, and ingestion of pollution and debris are just some of the hazards facing one of Florida’s most iconic animals.

To report an injured marine mammal, call the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC) or dial *FWC on any cellphone.

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