ORLANDO, Fla. — So far in January, information from SeaWorld Orlando shows that numerous Florida manatees have been rescued from state waterways.

What You Need To Know

  • State data show that numerous manatees have been rescued from Florida waterways so far in January

  • The manatees have been taken to different locations, including Tampa, Jacksonville, and SeaWorld Orlando

  • Three of the rescued manatees taken to SeaWorld were found in distress in the Indian River Lagoon

The large, aquatic mammals have been taken to different locations for rehabilitation, including Tampa, Jacksonville, and SeaWorld Orlando.

Three of the manatees taken to SeaWorld for treatment were found starving in the Indian River Lagoon in Brevard County.

According to experts looking into water conditions in the lagoon, pollution has killed off much of the sea grass, which has reduced the availability of one of the animals' main food supplies, and has caused a chronic starvation problem.

“Pollution within the lagoon has been killing off the sea grass, which is the main food choice for manatees,” said SeaWorld senior zoologist Mallorie McCormack.

A lack of food caused by pollution has become a major obstacle for Florida manatees, he said.

“There have been a record number of deaths in the last couple of years due to this event," McCormack said. "We have gotten a staggering number of rescues that come to us extremely emaciated, and it takes about four to six months giving supplement nutrition before that weight comes back on to them."

He said the rescued manatees at SeaWorld will be released back into their habitats once they are healthy enough.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has asked the public to report sick or injured manatees. Here are three ways to do that:

1. Report a sighting by phone to 888-404-FWCC (3922).

2. Dial #FWC or*FWC from a cell phone.

3. Or report a distressed manatee sighting on the FWC website.