The Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) was established in late 2001 and marked the beginning of a new era of cooperation in the manatee rehabilitation effort. Prior to the formation of the Consortium, state and federal agencies exclusively provided post-release monitoring for Florida manatees rehabilitated at permitted and contracted manatee rehabilitation facilities in Florida. Because it is difficult to maintain funding levels necessary to meet all of the escalating manatee conservation needs, these agencies were no longer able to bare sole responsibility to provide this service. However tracking the fate and health of rehabilitated and released manatees is essential to determining the successful contribution of the rehabilitation program to the recovery of Florida manatee populations.
What are the goals of the manatee rescue and rehabilitation program? The goal of the manatee rescue and rehabilitation program is to treat sick and injured manatees and release them back into the wild. The endangered Florida manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear. Sick and injured manatees are reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (1-888-404-FWCC) which is responsible for coordinating manatee rescue in Florida. After an animal is rescued it is taken to a rehabilitation facility. There are three federally permitted manatee rehabilitation facilities: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, Miami Seaquarium, and SeaWorld Orlando. Other facilities hold manatees after they are no longer receiving acute care. These include Cincinnati Zoo, Columbus Zoo, EPCOT's Living Seas, Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, and South Florida Museum.
Who are the MRP partners? The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities with a stake in tracking the post-release fate of rehabilitated manatees in the wild. The founding partners are: Cincinnati Zoo, Columbus Zoo, Disney Conservation Fund, EPCOT-Living Seas, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, Miami Seaquarium, Save the Manatee Club, SeaWorld Orlando, Sea to Shore Alliance, South Florida Museum, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Geological Survey’s Sirenia Project.
See a list of the MRP partners.
How does the partnership operate? The partners provide funding and technical expertise to a third party group chosen by the MRP to provide post-release monitoring services. Since 2008, Sea to Shore Alliance has performed this function. The financial, technical, and field support that has been contributed by the partners provide an annual window for the monitoring program to release several animals to be tracked each year. The MRP continuously seeks additional outside funds to continue the program. The funds contributed each year are used for real costs associated with the program including personnel salary, tags, tracking equipment, and satellite time. In turn, Sea to Shore Alliance provides rapid feedback and data to the members of the MRP regarding the tagged animals.
Who tracks the animals? The primary group responsible for tracking the animals released through this program is Sea to Shore Alliance. Sea to Shore Alliance visually checks on the animals and follows their progress via satellite tracking. Periodic field notes are posted in the Manatee Updates section of this web site.
News and Events
From Courthouse News Service: Permanent Manatee Refuge Established
From TCPalm.com: Indian River manatee returned after Miami Seaquarium rehabilitation
From the Daytona Beach News-Journal: Manatees Return to Blue Spring