ORLANDO, Fla. — November is manatee awareness month and SeaWorld proudly supports manatee awareness, playing an essential role in saving the manatees.
Since 1976, SeaWorld has provided the largest manatee rescue operation in the world and has completed nearly 1,300 rescues, rehabilitations and returns.
In the United States, SeaWorld Orlando operates one of only five critical care facilities, helping to makes scientific advances that increase the survival rate of orphaned, sick, and injured manatees.
SeaWorld’s five-acre rescue center has the capacity to care for up to 40 manatees at a time - one of the largest spaces available in the world - and its facilities have a wide range of critical care amenities including lifting floors, top-of-the-line therapeutic and diagnostic equipment, and expert veterinary staff.
“These advantages mean SeaWorld is often the first call for support in the field, especially outside the state of Florida,” said Jon Peterson, VP of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando, Head of SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team, and Chairman of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership. “Because of our scale, we can support manatee rescue up and down the eastern seaboard and across the Gulf coast.”
In 2021, manatee populations saw a dangerous decline with a record-breaking 1,000 manatee deaths. These deaths are due to the depletion of sea-grass, their primary food source, along with cold stress, injuries from boat strikes, entanglements, and other illnesses.
“While SeaWorld rescues more marine animals than any other company in the world, the manatee is of particular focus today because without our help, and that of our partners and community, there is a real possibility they will vanish forever,” said Dr. Chris Dold, Chief Zoological Officer of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Parks. “SeaWorld has taken a holistic approach to address the crisis – from being a leader in rescue, to offering state-of-the-art critical care and rehabilitation, to facilitating returns of healthy animals back to their natural environments. Leveraging 48 years of manatee care experience gives us a distinct advantage in helping these animals in their fight for survival.”
In addition to rescues and returns, SeaWorld contributes to the health and safety of the manatee population through a wide range of programs and commitments, including:
- School programs and in-park experiences that enable the community to get involved
- More than 16 SeaWorld conservation fund grants made to global manatee causes
- Innovations in veterinary care and nutrition that increase manatee survival rates
“The manatee is a national treasure and Florida’s official marine mammal and all of us owe a duty of care to do everything possible to prevent these gentles giants from disappearing forever from our waterways,” said Congressman Darren Soto. “We are working across the aisle to introduce legislation to grant manatees the highest level of federal protection possible. But we can’t get it done alone: involvement by everyday people and committed private sector groups like SeaWorld are a vital part of solving this equation.”
“We are very grateful to the SeaWorld team because we know the answer will always be yes when we call to ask for their help with an animal in need,” said Larry Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Florida state supervisor. “We know we can depend on them around the clock and their dedication of time, resources and veterinary care in the rescue of animals under even the most challenging of circumstances is testament to SeaWorld’s dedication to wildlife conservation.”
To report a manatee in distress in Florida, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922). The Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership also offers a helpful list of what to do to help a stranded manatee.