SeaWorld Orlando rescue team members headed to Charleston on a three-day mission to help save 10 stranded wayward manatees found near a warm water outflow area in the Cooper River.
According to SeaWorld officials, manatees typically move south into warmer waters when the temperature drops below 68 degrees. Due to the rapidly dropping water temperatures in the river, the manatees stayed near the warm water outflow instead of continuing to travel south.
Because the manatees didn’t travel south, they were isolated from adequate food sources and naturally warm waters, a press release from SeaWorld explains.
Multiple organizations and volunteers assisted SeaWorld with the rescue operation, and helped capture eight male and two female manatees from Nov. 28 to Nov. 30.
Once the manatees were captured, they immediately received health assessments by veterinarians and were later checked again when they arrived at the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida.
Nine manatees were deemed releasable, SeaWorld officials say, but one female was exhibiting mild cold stress and is being cared for by veterinarians and staff at the Jacksonville Zoo.
“She is Jacksonville Zoo’s first critical care patient at their new facility and is doing well,” the release states.
Jon Peterson, SeaWorld’s rescue manager, helped with coordination of the multi-agency effort.
“It is particularly gratifying to be a part of such a large scale effort, with partners from all over the Southeast lending expertise and manpower,” he said in the release. “When you can give ten threatened animals another chance at life that is a great week.”
The public is being asked to report any manatee sightings online to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at the agency’s manatee sighting website: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/manatee/sight.htm so the animal can be rescued.