Meet the Manatees
We can house up to three adult manatees in the Parker Manatee Aquarium, which includes both deep and shallow areas allowing the manatees to maintain natural feeding behaviors.
As a second stage rehabilitation facility, the Museum provides a temporary home for manatees that will be released back into the wild after when they have returned to health.
In May 2017, the Museum welcomed three manatees into its care:
- Randall, a 595-pound male manatee that had been rescued Dec. 12, 2016, from a culvert near Palatka.
- Baca, a 389-pound male suffering from cold stress when he was rescued from the Banana River in Cocoa Beach on Jan. 9, 2017.
- Gale, a 590-pound female rescued as a calf with her mother on Dec. 29, 2016, from Crane Creek near Melbourne. Gale’s mother, Tsunami, was suffering from severe injuries and cold stress and died not long after rescue.
Some Common Reasons We Help Manatees:
Red Tide Exposure
A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plant-like organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes red tide is Karenia brevis, or K. brevis, which produces toxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine animals, including manatees.
Florida manatees are herbivores, feeding on aquatic vegetation like seagrasses. Small crustaceans and barnacles grow on the blades of seagrasses and feed by filtering out particles from the surrounding waters. During blooms, red tide toxins accumulate in these crustaceans and, as manatees feed on seagrasses, they inadvertently ingest these crustaceans and the toxins they hold. If they ingest enough of these toxins, they can become very ill or even die.
Manatees are also exposed the red tide toxins when they surface to breathe and can develop respiratory infections that can also be fatal.
Cold stress can occur when manatees spend prolonged periods of time in water colder than 68 degrees and begin having frost bite-like symptoms. They can also be susceptible to pneumonia.
Manatees typically spend the first one or two years of their lives with their mothers, learning the ropes of how to find food and warm-water spots where they can safely pass the winter. If their mothers die, they need extra care until they’re big enough to navigate their environment. These orphaned animals are typically released during the winter months into groups of manatees congregated in warm-water spots in the hopes that they will find “mentors” that will help them learn the routes to and from warm-water spots.