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Rehabilitation facilities make room for more of Florida's ailing manatees

Many rescued manatees have gone to SeaWorld in Orlando, like these in a theme park lagoon. Photo by Amy Green
Amy Green
Many rescued manatees have gone to SeaWorld in Orlando, like these in a theme park lagoon.

Wildlife agencies say rehabilitation facilities are making more room for Florida’s ailing manatees, as an unprecedented die-off continues.

The agencies say 106 manatees were rescued last year in Florida. Manatees in the Indian River Lagoon have been especially hard-hit by water quality problems and seagrass losses.

The manatees have been treated at rehabilitation facilities from Puerto Rico to Ohio, although most have remained in Florida.

“Some of these animals, when they come in they really need excessive tubing and fluids and nutrition to help save their life and to start putting weight on and get them back into a healthy state,” said Terri Calleson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Many have been treated at SeaWorld Orlando, where an expansion of its rehabilitation facility is scheduled to be complete early this year. A record 1,100 manatees died in Florida in 2021.

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s work has been heard on NPR and seen in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, among many other publications. She began her career at The Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn. Amy grew up in Florida and lives in Orlando with her 7-year-old daughter.
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