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Manatee rescued on Matanzas Pass

Manatee, found on Fort Myers Beach, was struck by boat

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Sep 7, 2020

A manatee which was the victim of a boat strike, was rescued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) biologists on Saturday at Matanzas Pass on Fort Myers Beach and transported to Zoo Tampa. FWC officers as well as deputies from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the rescue.

According to Adam Brown, a public information officer with the FWC, the 1,000-pound female manatee was given a health assessment on site, data was recorded and she was taken to Zoo Tampa for rehabilitation.

Sandra Torres, senior director of communciations for Zoo Tampa, said the manatee was being “monitored closely” in a critical care pool at the zoo and is “considered stable.”

Torres said zoo staff are “cautiously optimistic” about the manatee’s recovery.

“Our veterinarian Dr. Lauren Smith confirmed that she did suffer from significant trauma due to a watercraft injury,” Torres said.

The FWC urges those who see a marine mammal in distress to contact the FWC immediately so trained professionals can assess the animal and give it the medical attention it may need. The FWC responds to reports of distressed manatees by investigating reports from the public and performs rescues for those animals in need of intervention.

The FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline is 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922). The FWC’s guidelines for dealing with marina mammals state that one should never push back a stranded marine mammal back out to sea if found stranded on the beach.

Guidelines for boaters to avoid striking manatees are to follow posted manatee zones while boating, wear polarized sunglasses to help spot manatees, look for large circles on the water (also known as manatee footprints) indicating the presence of a manatee below. Other clues for spotting manatees, which tend to stay in shallow water, is to look for a snout sticking up out of the water.

So far this year, there have been 420 manatee fatalities reported. For all of last year, there were 606 manatee deaths recorded by the FWC.

In Lee County, there have been 53 manatee deaths this year, down from last year’s pace when 144 were recorded for the whole year. Lee County led the state in manatee deaths last year but is currently second in the state.

Of the 53 deaths in Lee County this year, three were related to watercraft and 21 were unrecovered or undetermined. Last year, 27 manatee deaths were related to watercraft and 82 deaths were unrecovered or undetermined.

On Fort Myers Beach, a natural manatee death was reported on Pelican Bay in February, an unrecovered manatee death was recorded on Hurricane Bay in May, and a perinatal-related death was recorded in the Gulf of Mexico in June.