This is Una. She is currently staying at SeaWorld Orlando’s manatee rehabilitation center in one of our critical care pools. The white slatted floor is a hydraulic false bottom which can be raised in order to bring the animals up out of the water for medical treatment with minimal stress. Thanks to the tracking and observation efforts of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, we know quite a few details about her life.
This isn’t her first time at SeaWorld. She was rescued as an orphaned calf in 2003, weighing in at 170lbs. At a weight of 980lbs, she was released at Blue Springs State Park with a few other manatees in 2006. She has been seen with a calf of her own, which is very exciting. However, she also suffered from at least one boat strike. She recovered and was left with five propeller scars on her back. Around 90% of manatees have wounds from boat strikes. The scars are used by scientists to identify individuals. Eventually, Una shed her tracking device but was still spotted regularly and easily recognized by the “A5” ID marking on her tail. In late November of 2016, she was discovered to be severely entangled. Both of her pectoral flippers were tightly wrapped in monofilament fishing line which had cut deeply into the tissue almost to the bone. This is what happens when people toss tangled up fishing line overboard or just let wads of it blow away. Please recycle monofilament fishing line properly.
If you’d like to visit Una during her recovery, come see the Manatee Rehabilitation Area inside SeaWorld Orlando adjacent to the sea turtle habitat. The park is currently caring for 18 manatees. An adult manatee can eat around 200lbs of wet vegetation per day, and the little orphans are bottle fed specialized formula every two hours around the clock. Rescued patients need radiographs, ultrasounds, endoscopies, daily medications, tube feedings, wound care, and complicated surgical prodecures. SeaWorld of Orlando, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Miami Seaquarium, and the Jacksonville Zoo are the only facilites permited by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as designated manatee hospitals. Your visit funds the care of these sick and injured manatees and other rescued wildlife.
The Florida manatee was recently reclassified as “Threatened” (Previously “Endangered”), but the species is far from recovered. They still need all of the protection and support we can provide. “Not endangered” does not mean “not in danger”. If you are a Florida resident, please always vote for legislation that protects and benefits manatees. You can learn more about the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership here: public.wildtracks.org