Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership

Florida manatees face many threats including watercraft strikes, cold stress, red tide, entanglement, entrapment, and habitat loss. A concerted effort is underway to rescue, rehabilitate, release, and monitor sick and injured manatees. The Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership works as a cooperative of agencies, organizations, and oceanaria, to rescue, rehabilitate, and release manatees.

Our Mission:

To inspire and advance manatee conservation by partnering cooperatively in manatee rescue, rehabilitation, release, and monitoring efforts; improve understanding of manatee biology and health through scientific research; and promote stewardship and financial support through public education.

Our Vision:

To support, enhance, and inspire conservation and stewardship of manatees.

Thank you for your patience

You've reached us as we are on the cusp of introducing a new website for the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP). We appreciate your patience as we make these changes. Meanwhile, you can still check on Manatee Updates. Note, it tends to be slow in launching.

Manatee Updates

About MRP

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 bear 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 four federally permitted manatee rehabilitation facilities: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Miami Seaquarium, SeaWorld Orlando, and ZooTampa. Other facilities hold manatees after they are no longer receiving acute care. These include The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Cincinnati Zoo, Columbus Zoo, EPCOT's Living Seas, and Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park.

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, Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute (formerly 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, Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute provides rapid feedback and data to the members of the MRP regarding the tagged animals. Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute 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.

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: The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Cincinnati Zoo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, 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, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey’s Sirenia Project, and ZooTampa.

News

Recent Releases

Manatee awaits release.
18 manatees were recently returned to the wild by the MRP.
Amelia was rescued as an orphan calf in Indian Harbor Beach, Brevard County, Florida on March 19, 2017. She was 115 centimeters long and weighed 60 pounds at the time of her rescue. Amelia was transported to SeaWorld Orlando for care and transferred to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for continued rehabilitation. She was released on February 15, 2021 at Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County. She was 257 centimeters in length and weighed 988 pounds. She will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Avocado was rescued for cold stress in Cape Coral, Lee County, Florida on February 17, 2020. She was 193 centimeters long and weighed 240 pounds at the time of her rescue. Avocado was transported to ZooTampa for care. She was released on February 4, 2021, at TECO in Hillsborough County. She was 233 centimeters in length and weighed 550 pounds. She will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Bananatee was rescued as an orphan calf in Indian Creek, Miami-Dade County, Florida on July 27, 2018. He was 109 centimeters long and weighed 42 pounds at the time of his rescue. He was transported to Miami Seaquarium for care. He was transferred to Columbus Zoo for continued care. He was released on February 3, 2021 at PEEC in Broward County. He was 245 centimeters long and weighed 745 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.


Manatee gets fitted with tag.
A manatee is fitted with a satellite tracking device.

Bettysue was rescued as an orphan calf in St. Pete, Pinellas County, Florida on November 5, 2017. She was 118 centimeters long and weighed 66 pounds at the time of her rescue. Bettysue was transported to SeaWorld Orlando for care. She was released on February 3, 2021, at TECO in Hillsborough County. She was 247 centimeters long and weighed 820 pounds. She will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Dex was rescued as an orphan calf in Ft. Myers Beach, Lee County, Florida on September 27, 2017. He was 101 centimeters long and weighed 46 pounds at the time of his rescue. Dex was transported to SeaWorld Orlando for care. He was released on February 15, 2021, at TECO in Hillsborough County. He was 240 centimeters in length and weighed 590 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Heavy Falcon was rescued as an orphan calf in Crystal River, Citrus County, Florida on February 6, 2018. He was 136 centimeters long and weighed 135 pounds at the time of his rescue. Heavv Falcon was transported to SeaWorld Orlando for care then to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for continued rehabilitation. He returned to Sea World to prepare for release. He was released on February 16, 2021 at Three Sisters Spring in Citus County. He was 247 centimeters in length and weighed 660 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Irma was rescued as an orphan calf in Julington Creek, St. Johns County, Florida on August 29, 2017. She was 128 centimeters long and weighed 80 pounds at the time of her rescue. Irma was transported to SeaWorld Orlando for care and transferred to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for continued rehabilitation. She was released on February 15, 2021 at Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County. She was 256 centimeters in length and weighed 865 pounds. She will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Opal was rescued as an orphan calf at TECO, Hillsborough county, Florida on November 12, 2019. She was 171 centimeters long and weighed 182 pounds at the time of her rescue. Opal was transported to ZooTampa for care. She was released on February 15, 2021 at TECO in Hillsborough County. She was 210 centimeters in length and weighed 470 pounds. She will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Plantania was rescued as an orphan calf in Plantation, Broward County, Florida on October 9, 2018. She was 94 centimeters long and weighed 29 pounds at the time of her rescue. She was transported to Miami Seaquarium for care. She was released on February 3, 2021 at PEEC in Broward County. She was 221 centimeters long and weighed 502 pounds. She will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.


Manatees Amelia and Irma await release.
Manatees Amelia and Irma await release at Blue Spring State Park.

REC2031 was rescued for cold stress in Pine Island Conservation Center, Brevard County, Florida on December 29, 2020. He was 229 centimeters long and weighed 441 pounds at the time of his rescue. REC2031 was transported to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for care. He was released on February 16, 2021 at Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County. He was 232 centimeters in length and weighed 467 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

REC2103 was rescued for cold stress in Pine Island Conservation Center, Brevard county, Florida on January 11, 2021. He was 240 centimeters long and weighed 600 pounds at the time of his rescue. REC2102 was transported to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for continued rehabilitation. He was released on February 16, 2021 at Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County. He was 237 centimeters in length and weighed 561 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

RNE2101 was rescued for cold stress in the Ortega River, Brevard county, Florida on January 18, 2021. He was 276 centimeters long and weighed 811 pounds at the time of his rescue. RNE2101 was transported to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for continued rehabilitation. He was released on February 16, 2021 at Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County. He was 283 centimeters in length and weighed 849 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Retale was rescued for cold stress in Tampa Bay, Pinellas County, Florida on January 11, 2019. He was 189 centimeters long and weighed 288 pounds at the time of his rescue. Retale was transported to ZooTampa for care. He was released on February 15, 2021 at TECO in Hillsborough County. He was 231 centimeters in length and weighed 555 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.


Manatee is carried to the water.
The manatee is carried to the water on a stretcher and released.

Tostone was rescued as an orphan calf in Riviera Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida on February 8, 2019. He was 152 centimeters long and weighed 99 pounds at the time of his rescue. He was transported to Miami Seaquarium for care. He was transferred to Columbus Zoo for continued care. He was released on February 3, 2021 at Riviera Beach in Palm Beach County. He was 227 centimeters long and weighed 605 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Truffleshuffle was rescued as an orphan calf in Largo, Pinellas County, Florida on November 27, 2018. He was 170 centimeters long and weighed 205 pounds at the time of his rescue. He was transported to SeaWorld Orlando for care. He was released on February 15, 2021, at TECO in Hillsborough County. He was 225 centimeters in length and weighed 580 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Verde was rescued for cold stress in Tierra Verde, Pinellas County, Florida on January 28, 2020. He was 193 centimeters long and weighed 325 pounds at the time of his rescue. Verde was transported to ZooTampa for care. He was released on February 15, 2021 at TECO in Hillsborough County. He was 245 centimeters in length and weighed 610 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Viva was rescued with Red Tide in Captiva, Lee County, Florida on November 3, 2019. She was 195 centimeters long and 340 pounds at the time of her rescue. She was transported to ZooTampa for care. She was transferred to Bishop Museum of Science and Nature for continued care. She was released on February 18, 2021 at TECO in Hillsborough County. She was 215 centimeters long and weighed 425 pounds. She will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Manatee released with tracking device.
The tracking device will help researchers monitor the manatee's movements.

Mapping updates for tagged animals are available in Manatee Updates.

Research Methods

ARGOS Satellite Tracking
The project goal is to follow rehabilitated manatees living in Florida by satellite tracking using the ARGOS system. Service ARGOS is a cooperative venture under the joint management of France's Center of National Space Studies and the United States of America's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The purpose of ARGOS is to allow citizens to remotely collect environmental data on a wide range of subjects, including: meteorology, oceanography, and animal ecology.

To track each manatee a special transmitter placed in a waterproof container is attached by a tether to the manatee's tail. The towed transmitter broadcasts to a receiver placed on low-flying (525 miles altitude), polar orbiting Tiros-N satellites (currently NOAA-D, J, H, K and L). A computer on the satellite records signals from the transmitters during each overpass. The satellite, in turn, relays the manatee data to Earth-based listening stations where ARGOS computers determine the location of the manatee. Finally, the locations are sent to the project scientists via the Internet. The locations of the manatees are accurate to about 0.6 mile.

In addition to location information, the manatee transmitters also record, and relay to the scientists via the ARGOS satellite link, information concerning the manatees' diving behavior (dive number and dive duration), local water temperature, and the transmitter's battery status.

Satellite overpasses occur in Florida about 15 times per day, each pass lasting about 12 to 15 minutes. In order to conserve transmitter batteries, some transmitters are programmed to broadcast only eight hours per day, and others broadcast for eight hours every other day. As a result, two to six locations are received per broadcast day. Each day the scientists enter the data sent to them by ARGOS into a computer database and prepare animal tracking maps.

Attachment of Satellite Transmitters

The radio tracking component of the project was initiated in February 2002 with the tagging of six manatees.

Manatees remain submerged except when they briefly surface for air, and on rare occasions they stick their head and shoulders out of the water when feeding. However, it is not uncommon for them to be within six feet of the surface, and since it is necessary for the radio's antenna to be out of the water when transmitting, the transmitter's canister is designed to be buoyant with the antenna sticking above the water surface whenever the manatee is within six feet of the surface. The photo shown here (courtesy of the Sirenia Project) depicts how the transmitter's antenna protrudes when the tagged manatee travels or floats near the water surface.

Mapping updates for tagged animals are available in Manatee Updates.

Contact

To reach out to us at MRP, please use one of the following methods.

Call:

+1 (508) 926-9777

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