(Photo: The Daytona Beach News-Journal/David Tucker)
I just opened a new seamail and discovered my buddy, Rizzo the manatee, was released into the Tomoka River! It was back in February when Rizzo was discovered by Lt. Stacey Baer. He was suffering from cold stress. Lt. Baer is a law enforcement officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Us manatees cannot withstand temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods of time. That is why we can die from cold stress. SeaWorld’s veterinarians found lesions on Rizzo’s muzzle and flippers. These lesions are tell tale signs of cold stress. When Rizzo was discovered in February, the overnight low temperatures in Daytona, Florida were in the 40s for almost a week!
It sure is great news that Rizzo gained 250 pounds during his rehabilitation at Orlando’s SeaWorld. Tom Reinert, a biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission explained, it’s “pretty clear the manatee wouldn’t have survived if the FWC hadn’t intervened.”
Us Florida Manatees are a subspecies of the West Indian manatee. We’re currently listed as “endangered” and are at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and death. Our exposure to cold stress, red tide, and other diseases are the natural challenges we face each day. The man-made issues facing us are; boat strikes, flood gates (or locks) and also getting caught and tangled up in fishing gear.
If you see any sick or injured manatees, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida.
Here is a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation …
~ Kobee Manatee