Entangled Manatee Rescued and Released at Blue Spring State Park

In November, a volunteer noticed a manatee, who would later come to be known as "Manatee Jones," with a swollen flipper due to entanglement.
In November, a volunteer noticed a manatee, who would later come to be known as "Manatee Jones," with a swollen flipper due to entanglement.

By Cora Berchem, Director of Multimedia and Manatee Research Associate

In early November, a dedicated Manatee Observer volunteer at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, noticed a juvenile manatee with severe entanglement on his left flipper. The flipper was completely swollen, and it appeared the manatee was not using it at all. Staff from Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute (CMARI) and Save the Manatee Club (SMC) confirmed the entanglement shortly after, and on November 21, staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), SeaWorld Orlando, CMARI, and SMC were able to rescue the male manatee and transport him to SeaWorld Orlando for rehabilitation.

“Manatee Jones” is assessed prior to his release.

Luckily, the 600-pound, 7.5-foot-long male manatee was in great body condition. Due to the swift intervention of the partners and the dedicated team at SeaWorld, the entanglement was surgically removed and he was cleared for release in early January. SeaWorld staff nicknamed him “Manatee Jones” in reference to “Indiana Jones.” He was returned back into the natural habitat at Blue Spring on January 4, 2024, by a multi-agency team from FWC, SMC, SeaWorld, Volusia County, and park staff. Over 600 manatees were in the spring run that morning, so he immediately found good company!

Stories like these illustrate how important it is to always properly dispose of trash and recycle fishing line in appropriate bins so manatees and other wildlife do not get entangled in or accidentally ingest it. Flipper entanglements are very common in manatees and can cause severe injuries or, in extreme cases, lead to death. They can be particularly detrimental for female manatees; severe entanglements can lead to damage that prevents their calves from properly nursing, as the mammary glands are located just behind the flipper. Please do your part and always recycle fishing line, participate in local cleanup events, and report any sick or injured manatees immediately to FWC at 1-888-404-3922.

“Manatee Jones” was released successfully and joined the over 600 other manatees at Blue Spring State Park that day.

All activities conducted under permits #MA770191, #MA791721-6, DEP #02042213

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