Manatee Rescued by Kayakers and Biologists

Two kayakers near Bonita Springs, Florida saw what they thought was a rock in the water as they paddled, but as they got closer learned that it was actually a distressed manatee. They had cell phones with them, so they made a call to get help and then stayed near the manatee to warn boats to stay away. (Each year a large number of manatees are struck by boats. In 2009 alone, 91 manatee deaths resulted from such accidents.) Boat accidents are the number one cause of manatee deaths in Florida, so the kayakers provided a double service by calling in for help, and guarding the animal while it was incapacitated, but still alive.

About six marine specialists and volunteers helped secure the sick marine mammal and lift it onto a truck for the journey to the Miami Seaquarium where it could receive treatment. The manatee is sick due to exposure to a red tide which contains toxins disruptive to the animal’s central nervous system. When they are sick from a red tide, manatees lose their coordination and body orientation. If they are rescued in time most of them recover, fortunately.

West Indian manatees in Florida are endangered and protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Though massive creatures weighing up to 1200 pounds, they can cruise for several hours at 16 mph, and achieve a top speed of 20- 40 mph in bursts, says the Smithsonian. Most of the time they swim at a leisurely 3-5 mph.

They are herbivorous, but may ingest sea squirts, mollusks or zooplankton by accident while consuming plants. Manatees are genetically related to elephants. An ancient relative of elephants spent most of its time in water, and manatees are believed to have evolved from land-based plant eaters, over 60 million years ago.

Image Credit: USGS/Public Domain – Wiki Commons


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Connie O.
Connie O4 years ago

Manatees are very gentle creatures. I have enjoyed watching them swim in the warm springs (up on a viewing platform where I am not bothering them).

Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago

thank you

Jim PhillipsComputerDown
Jim P5 years ago

Glad that the kayakers called for help and stayed with the Manatee in distress.

Hope the Manatee recovers from the red tide soon with the help of the marine specialties.

Ty, Jake.

Tom Sullivan
Tom C Sullivan5 years ago

So kool, thanks for saving the manate

Jane R.
Jane R6 years ago

I learned something about manatees by reading this artical. I never knew anything about them before. Thanks for sharing this story. I'm happy someone helped it.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe6 years ago

Many thanks to the two kayakers who called for help for this guy/gal, and for sticking around to make sure he/she didn't get hit by a boat. You are super special.

Melinda K.
Past Member 6 years ago

TG it was found and received support from the 2 concerned kyakers.

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley6 years ago

Thank you for rescuing this beautiful baby!!

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P6 years ago

that's great

Suzanne Loewen
Suzanne L6 years ago

Good for these people and also those who took the manatee to a sanctuary. I hope s/he will return to health. They are such gentle creatures. So sad we're messing up their environment and putting them in danger.