810-pound manatee hoisted from Texas canal in rare rescue

SeaWorld San Antonio along with several other conservation organizations came to the rescue of a stranded manatee in a Texas canal — a rare occurrence since manatees don’t usually live in the state.

The stranded sea cow was reported by a local fisherman on Dec. 3. He was underweight, tipping the scales at 810 pounds, and was suffering from acute cold stress syndrome due to the lack of suitable habitat conditions, according to SeaWorld San Antonio spokesperson Chuck Cureau.

Manatees are typically found in estuaries, canals, and slow-moving rivers, and are concentrated in Florida where the water is warmer.

“In the weeks coming, SeaWorld animal care specialists will monitor the manatee’s health and behavior which will indicate if and when it is safe to return him to his natural environment,” said Vice President of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld San Antonio Steve Aibel.

Animal care experts believe the manatee migrated from its natural habitat in search of food, which is diminishing due to the destruction of natural sea habitats in Florida, according to a press release from SeaWorld San Antonio.

The manatee was transported to SeaWorld San Antonio immediately after the rescue and is being rehabilitated before he’s released in Florida waters.

“Our rescue team is always ready and capable to answer the call and work with our partners in Texas when an animal is in need. The safe rescue of this manatee is very important but only the beginning of the work ahead of us,” said Aibel.

Manatees are warm-blooded and exposure to frigid water can cause bleaching of their skin, visible abscesses, unresolved sores, a heavy barnacle or algae load, lethargic behaviors and weight loss.

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