FWC rescues multiple manatees from Lake Tarpon

Posted at 4:55 PM, Dec 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-01 18:30:46-05

Manatees trapped in Lake Tarpon get a fighting chance. Fish and Wildlife teams are rescuing the manatees and re-locating them, an effort that is crucial to keeping the manatees alive.

It takes a big team to move one manatee. But it’s what’s needed to save multiple manatees from Lake Tarpon.

“We’re a little concerned that if the manatees stay in there during winter time and the temperature does drop low enough, they’ll end up with an environment that can’t support them,” Mike Walsh, professor and veterinarian at University of Florida, said. 

Fish and Wildlife is working with Clearwater Marine Aquarium and University of Florida to find multiple manatees stuck in this lake since Tropical Storm Colin. They rescued three Thursday.

It’s a huge body of water to search. From our drone, Action Air Skyview, we saw one of the manatees on board a rescue boat.

A health assessment is the first step for a rescued manatee, then FWC knows if the manatee can go back into the wild or need rehab.

“The reason why we put hands on them during the handling process is if we’re going to anticipate when we’re doing something they’re not used to, they might respond,” Walsh said. 

We caught one big response from a young, male manatee in a Facebook Live video. But he’s okay. Veterinarians said manatees can be safely out of the water for long periods of time. 

Neighbors came to see two manatees caught up close. 

“As close as I am to you, you could stand right next to the manatee, and you see the whole body and see him breathing,” Candice Sell said.

She even followed that manatee to his release in Safety Harbor.

“I named him Mistletoe, Mistletoe the manatee!” Sell said.

A rescue team will be back out, looking for more manatees Friday.