Attempt to rescue injured manatee fails in Merritt Island

By Greg Pallone, Brevard County Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017, 6:40 PM EDT

A large effort Friday to rescue a badly injured manatee in Brevard County fell short.

  • FWC tried to catch injured manatee, ultimately failed
  • They believe manatee has a punctured lung
  • Manatee has a calf with it

The injured mother and her calf were spotted by a kayak tour, who called to get it help.

The manatee was spotted close to Titusville earlier this week, and on Friday several miles down the Banana River. Florida Fish and Wildlife officers tried to bring it in to treat its wounds.

Using kayaks, FWC biologists worked to corral the manatee in the waters of Merritt Island's Manatee Cove Park.

Some 20 workers were on the scene, some manning large nets, hoping to sway the 10-foot-long, 1,000-pound sea cow, and it's four-foot-long, 150-pound baby to come with them so they can help.

The mother is a victim of a boat strike, and a broken rib punctured one of its lungs -- trapping air inside.

"Our tour guide noticed that there was a manatee in the bay, struggling," said Annie Cavanaugh, whose family was on a kayak tour. "It couldn't submerge."

"If they could rescue the manatee it would be great to see," said husband Chris.

Just as we spoke to the family, word came that the rescue attempt was ending.

"Weather is ultimately calling it for today," said Bill Greer, biologist with the FWC.

Plus the manatee was moving away from the team, making it more difficult to catch.

"Hopefully someone will be able to catch her and get her to where she needs to be," said Annie Cavanaugh.

FWC says manatees must be able to submerge to feed on the sea grass, and fortunately there is lots of shallow water in this area.

Anyone who spots this injured manatee, or any other, is urged to call the FWC Hotline at 888-404-3922.