Read on for updates on Randall, Baca, and Gale, the 3 new manatees we welcomed into our Stage 2 Rehabilitation Facility, where the animals will continue to regain their health so that they can be returned to the wild.
“Each of the new arrivals came into rehab for a different reason and has a different story to share,” says Marilyn Margold, Director of Living Collections. Snooty, the Museum’s resident manatee and the world’s oldest-known manatee, is now mentoring:
— Randall, a 595-pound male rescued Dec. 12, 2016, from a culvert near Palatka.
— Baca, a male suffering from cold stress when he was rescued from the Banana River in Cocoa Beach on Jan. 9. He weighs in at 389 pounds.
— Gale, a 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 their rescue. Gale currently weighs 590 pounds.
“Baca is typical of what we see in manatees that suffered from cold stress. He has some visible scars that will fade over time but will probably always remain visible,” Marilyn added. “It’s unfortunate, but wild manatees are identified by their scar patterns and he will likely have one. Randall had a back injury toward the base of his tail but has no trouble diving for food or surfacing to breathe. You can see a little mark there. Gale also has a mark on the edge of her tail so we tell them apart by the shape of their tails. All three are from the East coast and will be returned there for release.”
As a Stage 2 manatee rehabilitation facility and member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), the Museum plays an important role in helping to care for sick or injured manatees to prepare them for return to the wild. The MRP is a self-governing group originally created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is today made up of organizations that participate in manatee rescue and rehabilitation.
One of the Museum’s main tasks is bridging the gap between the intensive care needs that manatees have after initial rescue and their release. The manatees’ stay at the Museum allows them to regain full health and often includes ensuring that they are the right size and weight for release.
Having a third rehab manatee at the Museum is unusual, according to Marilyn. “Snooty seemed to enjoy having some time on his own prior to their arrival, but seems to be ready for company, and therefore more attention, now. Each year we plan to provide food and care for two rehab manatees, plus Snooty, but when we were asked to care for a third rehab manatee to make space at a critical care hospital, we knew we had to help even though it requires an additional financial commitment.”