Successful Releases for Manatees Siesta, Key, and Faye
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FROM Cora Berchem,
September 2020

Three more previously injured or sick Manatees are successfully released back into the wild.

Manatee and Calf
Siesta and her calf, Key, just after being released into Sarasota Bay. Photo by Ally Greco, Save the Manatee Club.

When Sarasota resident Walter Hepp, M.D. stepped out on his back porch in Harbor Acres near Selby Gardens, Florida, on the morning of May 10th, he spotted what looked like a large floating log. However, after a few minutes, Hepp realized this was not a log after all – it was a manatee, and something was wrong with it. On Mother’s Day, the injured adult female was rescued in a coordinated effort by staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Mote Marine Laboratory, and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s department. Upon arrival at SeaWorld Orlando, staff noticed after the initial health assessment that she was pregnant, and only three days later she gave birth to a healthy male calf!

Staff nicknamed the mother “Siesta” and her calf “Key,” due to the location where they had been rescued. Siesta, who turned out to be a known manatee from the Southwest Florida area since 2014, was suffering from air trapped in her lung cavity, a condition called a pneumothorax, due to a watercraft injury. The experienced staff placed her into a specially-designed wetsuit to keep her level in the water and to make it easier for her to breathe before performing a chest tap to remove the trapped air from her lung.

Manatee and Calf

Luckily, Siesta made a speedy recovery, so she and her calf were released back out into the wild on June 18th. In the wild, manatee calves depend on their mothers for the first one to two years of their life to learn necessary survival skills such as finding warm water, fresh water, and food sources; so the best place for a young manatee calf like Key to be is out in the wild with his mother.

Manatee Faye, a known Blue Spring manatee since 2015, was also rescued for watercraft injuries in early May of this year near Hontoon Island in the St. John’s River. Upon arrival at SeaWorld Orlando, she was also confirmed pregnant! Faye made a speedy recovery and was released back into the wild at Blue Spring on July 15th, so she will hopefully be able to give birth to her calf in the wild. We will certainly look out for her this upcoming manatee season!

In addition to the successful releases of Siesta, Key, and Faye, manatees Una, her now grown calf, and Lesley are still at SeaWorld recuperating from their injuries until they are cleared for release as well.

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