Mystic, CT (September 23, 2016): Last evening, Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program admitted a female Florida manatee to the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation Veterinary and Animal Health Center. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) monitored, rescued and transported the manatee under a permit and with guidance from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The female manatee weighs in at just over 800 lbs. Under the professional and world-class care of Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Team, animal care specialists and veterinary staff, she is in stable condition and is eating and acclimating well to her current surroundings. It is the first manatee at Mystic Aquarium.
The animal was rescued from the waters of Nantucket Sound in Falmouth, MA, on Thursday afternoon. First sighted in Chatham, MA, in late August, officials became increasingly concerned for the mammal’s well-being as September approached and water temperatures continued to drop. It became evident that the animal would require relocation to a warmer climate. Upon securing a special permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, IFAW began rescue operations.
“The animal will remain in our care for approximately 1-2 weeks; until she is deemed stable enough for transport,” said Allison D. Tuttle, DVM, Diplomate ACZM, Mystic Aquarium’s Vice President of Biological Programs. “Upon that determination, she will be flown to a more permanent rehabilitation center in Florida to fully recuperate before ultimately being released back into coastal waters.
The Florida manatee is an endangered marine mammal found in the coastal waters of the United States. A large, herbivorous marine mammal, the Florida manatee is habitually found in the coastal waters and rivers of the southeastern United States and Gulf of Mexico. It can move freely between salinity extremes including freshwater, brackish and marine habitats.
“We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to care for this animal,” said Janelle Schuh, Stranding coordinator for Mystic Aquarium. “It is essential to us an organization to care for and protect the ocean planet including its inhabitants. And, while we do this every day, bringing this animal’s story to light in our geographic area is even more poignant as a way to inspire even more efforts to save the species.”
In addition to their federal status as an endangered species, Florida manatees are important as an indicator species; providing insight to environmental and habitat changes.
About Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program
Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program supports animals in need and educates the public about the marine environment and its inhabitants. The public is encouraged to call the aquarium’s 24-hour hotline at 860.572.5955 ext. 107 if they encounter a marine mammal or sea turtle in Conn., R.I. or Fishers Island, N.Y. Mystic Aquarium is a founding member of the Northeast Region Stranding Network. This network is comprised of organizations along the eastern sea coast which have facilities and trained staff to care for sick and injured animals. Marine Mammals are protected species, so only groups and facilities authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service are permitted to handle these animals.
About Mystic Aquarium
A nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Mystic Aquarium is counted among the nation’s leading aquariums with more than 300 species and an extensive collection of marine mammals, including New England’s only belugas. Mystic Aquarium has been a pioneer in offering guests a variety of up close encounters with a wide range of marine animals. The mission of Mystic Aquarium is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean environment through conservation, education and research. Mystic Aquarium receives major support from The Coca-Cola Company, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Resorts World Sentosa, and United Technologies Corporation. Learn more at MysticAquarium.org.