Casey DeSantis Showcases Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership With SeaWorld

This week, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis and Madison and Mason DeSantis visited SeaWorld Orlando, an acute care rehabilitation facility that provides life-saving medical care to rescued manatees and a member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership.

“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, along with partners like SeaWorld Orlando and other rescue and rehabilitation facilities, are working tirelessly to provide sick and injured manatees the care they need to restore their health and, when possible, return to the wild,” said First Lady DeSantis. “I was happy to be able to see first-hand the coordinated effort to protect one of Florida’s most beloved species.”

The Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership is a cooperative of agencies, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and organizations to rescue, rehabilitate, and release manatees. Once a manatee is rescued, it is sent to one of several critical care facilities throughout Florida. These facilities provide the care necessary to nurse manatees back to health and, when possible, return them to the wild.

The Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget includes $8 million for FWC to help restore manatee access to springs and provide habitat restoration in manatee-concentrated areas.

To build on this year’s investment, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget recommendations include an additional $3.8 million for the care and management of manatees. Specific investments include:

$2.9 million to enhance and expand the network of specialized acute care facilities to treat injured and distressed manatees;

$718,000 and two full-time positions for Manatee Rescue and Mortality Response to enhance monitoring and research support; and

$160,000 for Manatee Management, including aerial surveys to study and document aquatic systems where manatee presence is either not well understood or there is a need for documented expansion of their range.

In November, FWC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the formation of a Joint Incident Management Team to address the unusual mortality event for manatees along Florida’s Atlantic coast. The Joint Incident Management Team has implemented a variety of approaches to bring immediate relief to manatees in need of assistance, including conducting supplemental feeding trials to reduce the number of manatees in need of rescue.

People can help manatee conservation by reporting injured, distressed, or dead manatees to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.

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