Rescued manatee released back to native Florida waters

Washburn was released back to the wild today in Florida as a crowd looked on. Photos courtesy of USFWS

Washburn, the wayward, pregnant manatee we rescued this summer, has been released back to the wild.

She was released just after 10 am today in the northern part of Mosquito Lagoon in Southern Volusia County, Florida. She appears to be doing very well. We’ll be tracking her progress and hope that she gives birth to a healthy calf in the spring.

Her story began this summer.

After a week of monitoring her in the waters of Cape Cod (it is rare for manatees to be this far north particularly when waters are beginning to cool), there was a confirmed sighting in a bay in the small village of Cotuit and the team that deployed found her in a small inlet in nearby East Falmouth, Massachusetts.

We used a seine net to bring the manatee to shore.

Our veterinarian and rescue staff monitored her respirations, analyzed her blood and checked her health before loading her into our rescue trailer and transporting her to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut for temporary rehabilitation. After a few days under care in Mystic, it was discovered that she was pregnant.

After a month of rest and eating copious amounts of lettuce, she was moved out of her Mystic tank into a special transportation box and brought onboard a US Coast Guard HC-144 by forklift before making the five-hour flight to Orlando, Florida.

She had been rehabilitating in Florida before today’s much anticipated release.

Many thanks to all of the organizations that have been involved with Washburn’s care since her rescue, and we look forward to some great news in the spring.

--BS

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