Orphaned Manatee Calf Starts Her New Life in the Wild
SeaWorld’s Rescue, Rehabilitation and Return Program Comes Full Circle for Blanche the Manatee
Almost three years after she was rescued, a female manatee has returned to the Florida’s natural waters. Amidst cheers and bittersweet tears, SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue Team returned Blanche to Port St. John, Florida and watched her swim away, ready to begin her life in the wild.
On July 21, 2014, Blanche was an orphan calf, estimated to be only two weeks old, when she was found swimming alone in the Indian River. She was rescued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and brought to SeaWorld Orlando. Weighing in at only 48 pounds and measuring 48 inches in length, Blanche required around-the-clock care, including regular bottle feedings. She responded well to the immediate care she received and continued to thrive at SeaWorld’s Manatee Rehabilitation Center. Each day marked another day closer to the ultimate goal of being returned to her natural environment.
One of the most critical components to manatee rehabilitation is weight gain. Rescued orphaned manatees must weigh at least 600 pounds before they can be considered strong candidates for return by the Florida Fish and Wildlife. Today, Blanche weighs an amazing and healthy 775 pounds.
SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue Team and FWC recorded Blanche’s final measurements moments before release and fitted her with a belt that will allow the Sea to Shore Alliance to monitor her success and track her path in the wild. Blanche is the sixth rehabilitated manatee SeaWorld has released to the natural environment this year.
In collaboration with the government and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the ocean. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 29,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than 50 years.
Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership
As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), SeaWorld Orlando is an acute care rehabilitation facility that provides life-saving medical care to rescued manatees.
The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available atwww.wildtracks.org. The 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.
All manatee rescue footage is produced by SeaWorld under the FWS Permit Number MA7701911.