For Immediate Release
May 20, 1999

Contact: Tom MacKenzie
404/679-7291

EFFORTS TO RESCUE MANATEE THWARTED AGAIN

mflipper.jpg (11931 bytes)Dually, a female manatee well known to Florida Keys residents, escaped rescuers over the weekend as well-intentioned but misguided individuals removed a tangle of monofilament fishing line from her flippers. Rescuers from the Dolphin Research Center and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection had been trying for weeks to clip a tag into the tangle so that the animal could be tracked and later rescued for treatment. Previous efforts to rescue Dually had been thwarted by her very elusiveness, and the difficulties in locating her.

Dually's entangled flippers have monofilament line deeply imbedded in the skin, and their condition appears to be worsening. Similarly entangled animals have been permanently scarred, lost flippers, and even died from infections associated with monofilament entanglement. Dually's condition is unknown, and rescuers will continue to try to find her to remove the remaining line and properly assess her condition.

The Fish and Wildlife Service coordinates efforts such as these to rescue and rehabilitate manatees. In the Keys, the Dolphin Research Center and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are permitted to verify the presence of sick, injured, and orphaned manatees and to rescue them when needed.

"The Dolphin Research Center and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection do a wonderful job rescuing manatees in the Keys," said Jim Valade, the Service's manatee rescue and rehabilitation coordinator. "We've been working with them for well over eight years. Because of their efforts and those of other participants, the rescue and rehabilitation program enjoys a remarkable success."

"They have well-qualified, dedicated, and caring individuals who have a personal commitment to ensuring the health and safety of manatees and other marine mammals in the Keys," said Valade. "They do an excellent job."

"Most manatee injuries are preventable," said Valade. He cautions boaters to slow down and watch for manatees when they are in a manatee area. When operating a boat near a manatee, they should avoid closing in on the animal and let it pass well clear of their boat. Monofilament line should be disposed of properly because it can snare all kinds of animals, including manatees, and may cause injuries and sometimes death.

If you see a sick, injured, or orphaned manatee, report it to the Florida Marine Patrol at 1- (800) 342-5367 or 1- (800) DIAL-FMP. The Florida Marine Patrol will then direct permitted rescuers to the animal in distress. Rescuers will re-locate the animal and evaluate its condition to determine an appropriate course of action. Under no circumstances should individuals attempt to disentangle or rescue a manatee. While such attempts may be well-intentioned, it is illegal, as unqualified rescuers may do more harm than good For further information, please contact Jim Valade at (904) 232-2580 extension 118.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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Photographs of Dually may be obtained from Dana Carnegie at the Dolphin Research Center. Please call (305) 289-1121 extension 214 for more information.

Release #: R99-044


1999 News Releases

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