SeaWorld teams up with Georgia Aquarium to save two orphaned manatees

ORLANDO, Fla. — SeaWorld has teamed up with Georgia Aquarium to continue to help rehabilitate two orphaned manatees that were rescued in December.

Florida manatees are getting injured and dying in record numbers from starvation, cold and boat strikes.

Currently, critical care rescue and rehabilitation centers in Florida are running out of room due to the high demand.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

In Florida, in 2021, 1,101 manatees died primarily from starvation due to loss of seagrass in the Indian River Lagoon, a result of pollution and ongoing poor water quality issues.

Another 357 manatees have already died in 2022.

“The fight to save manatees amidst this record-breaking unusual mortality event requires a great deal of commitment and collaboration from all of our dedicated partners,” 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. “We sincerely value the long-standing partnership we’ve had with Georgia Aquarium and look forward to working together to advance marine animal conservation for years to come.”

Read: Brevard County reports increased number of manatee deaths

Georgia Aquarium is the newest member of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP).

SeaWorld and Georgia Aquarium have already been involved in a multi-year partnership for marine animal rescue and conservation.

On Monday, SeaWorld and Georgia Aquarium announced that two juvenile orphaned manatees

Read: 4 young manatees flown from SeaWorld Orlando to Columbus Zoo for treatment

were transferred from SeaWorld’s Rescue Center in Orlando to Georgia Aquarium to free up critical care space at SeaWorld’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

The two manatees were rescued by SeaWorld in December and have received care since.

The female calf was only 124 pounds when she was found suffering from cold stress in Blue Springs, and the male was only 126 pounds when he was found with a deceased female, likely his mother, near Port St. John power plant.

Read: Wildlife officers rescue manatee on Merritt Island after several attempts

The manatees being cared for by Georgia Aquarium will not be on display to the public.

“Georgia Aquarium has been involved in manatee research and health assessments for several years, but this is the first time we will have manatees under our care,” said Eric Gaglione, VP of Zoological Operations at Georgia Aquarium. “We have an important long-standing partnership with SeaWorld for the conservation of marine animals and are honored to join them and our other colleagues in the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership to give these two orphaned manatees a fighting chance. Manatees are in crisis, and it is our role as an accredited aquarium to do everything we can to change their fate in the wild.”

Once the manatees have reached sufficient size and become healthy enough to survive on their own, they will be returned to the care facility at SeaWorld Orlando before being returned to their native habitats in Florida.

Read: Officials: Florida plan has fed manatees 25 tons of lettuce

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.