Manatee Mom and Calf Rescued, Then Released
An Animal Rights Article from


From Save the Manatee Club
April 2011

[Ed. Note: Once again, evidence to prove that eating any species of animal impacts other species. Being vegan saves LIVES! This Manatee mom (among many) had to be rescued and given medical attention because she had fishing line filament twisted around one of her flippers. Without this attention, she would have at least suffered distress and infection, if not death. Now she and her calf have been cared for and released into their natural habitat. Now we just hope neither or both of them are hit by boat propellers...but that's another "story."]

In February, a mother manatee and calf were released at Three Sisters Springs near Crystal River, Florida. The mom had been rescued a week earlier after she became severely entangled in monofilament fishing line. The line was so tightly embedded, it cut all the way to the bone and prevented the female's calf from nursing behind her right flipper.


The entangled manatee was first noticed last March at Three Sisters by manatee advocate and underwater photographer, Tracy Colson. Colson and fellow Citrus County resident Steve Kingery have both been honored by Save the Manatee Club for their commitment to manatee protection after capturing video footage of swimmers and divers disturbing and harassing manatees in the Crystal River area. Unfortunately after the entangled manatee was sighted by Colson last March, she was not spotted again until early February of this year. By coincidence, it was Colson who discovered her once more at Three Sisters Springs, and this time, the entangled manatee had a young calf with her.

Rescuers try to remove monofilament line embedded in the mother's right flipper. After it was discovered that the wound was too deep to treat on site, both mother and calf were transported to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa for additional care. (Photo by Tracy Colson)

A Manatee Watch volunteer called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Headquarters in Crystal River to report the entangled manatee. As luck would have it, biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Sirenia Project and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with Dr. Mike Walsh, a veterinarian from the University of Florida, had just finished an annual health assessment of manatees nearby. Taking advantage of the experts at hand, the FWS manatee rescue team decided to capture the mom and calf, hoping to treat the mother manatee and release her that same day.

However, after capturing the manatee, they discovered that the wounds caused by the fishing line were too deep to be removed on site. The manatees were taken to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa where Dr. Ray Ball further treated the wound and removed another strand of fishing line that had become embedded in the manatee’s joint.

According to the FWS, the entangled manatee has been one of several reported at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge this year. “Four incidents involved fishing lures, including two manatees that were hooked on the face,” said Ivan Vicente, Visitor Services Specialist for the refuge. “Incidents like this should be a poignant reminder to better manage our fishing tackle, while leaving no trace on the manatee’s home.” Currently, it is illegal to discard monofilament fishing line in Florida state waters.

Colson and several other local manatee advocates, such as Helen Spivey, Co-Chair of Save the Manatee Club’s Board of Directors, and Stacy and Mike Dunn, were on hand to witness and help out at the happy occasion when the pair were released at Three Sisters Springs on February 9th. The release was also shown live on the Internet via the Three Sisters web cam, which has been installed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"How fortunate it was that all the resources were available for a quick rescue and transport of the entangled manatee and her calf," said Colson. "The manatee's flipper was saved, and I'm very happy to have played a part in the rescue."

Special thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their news release on this issue.

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