Dead Manatee Mother Pulled From Bayshore Waters
The mother was spotted last night with two manatees, originally believed to be her babies, following her.
A 2,000-pound manatee carcus was pulled from the waters currently over flowing Bayshore Boulevard this morning.
Florida Fish and Wildlife came to collect the carcus around 10 a.m., 13 hours after it was spotted by local residents being slammed into the walls of the Davis Islands bridge. Residents pulled together in a community effort to get a rope around the manatee's tail so as to tie her to the dock until morning when fish and wildlife officials could attempt to rescue her.
"There was a crowd of about 30 people last night when I got here," Davis Islands resident Keely Fishbach said. "Someone ran to their home and we all worked together to get it around her tail and tie her to the dock. It was too dangerous for the wildlife officials to rescue her last night and if the other manatees were her babies, officials told us they wouldn't leave her and they could rescue them in the morning."
The deceased manatee was still lactating when officials got to it, leading them to believe that there could potentially be a juvenile manatee still out there. The two with her, however, were not her children most likely, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife experts on the scene.
"The smaller of the two manatees with her is around 7 feet long, so there isn't a calf with her," said Andy Garrett, a Florida Fish and Wildlife marine biologist. "The other manatee is very big and a male. Sometimes when a female manatee dies males will try to mate with the carcus which is what we believe has happened here. The question becomes, is the smaller of the two her offspring or did another animal not make it this far?"
If the smaller is her offspring, it is at an age where it can survive on its own. Officials removed the body using a type of crane, lifting it into a trailer where it will be taken back to a facility in Pinellas County for a necropsy.
"We'll take her back to the lab and try to figure out how she died," Garrett said. "She doesn't have any obvious wounds so it is possible she could have drowned. I know people want to link these things to storms but they isn't necessarily the case. When we get inside, it could be something health wise going on with her."
For local residents, this particular manatee is a common site. Fishbach says she has seen her several times near Bayshore Blvd during her regular walks along the boulevard.
"I kept seeing her and some babies when I'd be walking down Bayshore recently," Fishbach said. "I think this is her regular habitat."