On February 23, 2015, a very small and skinny mother manatee swam into Three Sisters Springs along with her young male calf. A Manatee Watch volunteer at Three Sisters Springs noticed and asked me about the pair. I got a series of underwater pictures for ID to send to researchers and officials at U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
Since our Florida weather warmed up so fast and dramatically, I haven’t seen or heard about them since.
It is possible the female is just extremely malnourished, but when I see deep belly rolls like this I know it’s a real concern. I’ve seen this a number of times over the past ten years, since I have been aware of what an emaciated manatee looks like.
Above is a side-view of the skinny mother from the same day. Her male calf is resting on the other side. I’ve only seen rolls like this on manatees in serious condition. Again, this is only a perspective that can be seen from underwater. Let’s hope for the best she and her calf will be rescued or, with all our warm March weather, she will somehow pull through. Manatees are quite tough and resilient. USFWS is around the springs constantly now and I’m sure if they see her a careful assessment will commence. I haven’t heard of anyone reporting on her again since February 23rd, but I know my series of photographs was received and the Manatee Watch volunteer who saw her reported it also.
These belly rolls look very similar to a young manatee we had been watching for a couple of weeks and helped locate for rescue in 2013. USFWS along with FWC rescued it on Valentine’s Day 2013 and transported it to Lowry Park Zoo manatee rehab in Tampa. They named it “Amour”. Unfortunately it died a week later. That young manatee was so skinny because it had swallowed monofilament and the wad of line was embedded in its stomach tissue. I hope this mother manatee isn’t experiencing something similar.
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