Brevard County sees nearly triple the number of manatee rescues and deaths than any other county in Florida
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Thanks to your generosity, we were able to help our partners at the FWC and USFWS rescue, recover and supply the manatees. We asked you to help us answer the call for manatees in December 2021.
Brevard County sees nearly triple the number of manatee rescues and deaths than any other county in Florida, and we wanted to be a dedicated resource for our partners at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to call for help from these gentle giants.
Your response was amazing. You nearly tripled our request of $30,000 in just a few weeks, and we want to share with you what our team has done to help FWC and the manatees with your generosity as well as thank you for your contributions.
“It’s hard work, physically, mentally and emotionally,” said Jody Palmer, the zoo’s director of conservation. “Seeing the support from our community has been a beacon of hope for the effort we can do together to improve the ecosystem and population of these beloved animals.”
After consulting further with the FWC and USFWS on their immediate needs, we used these funds to build a team of experienced and committed volunteers, as well as dedicate our staff’s time to assist in the rescue, recovery and recovery. manatee supply, Jody said.
“We deployed more rescue team personnel than I imagined and rescued countless manatees with our partners,” she said.
“A lot of these animals are recovering well. Some are already back in our waterways, it’s wonderful to be part of a success story when possible.
Currently, members of our zoo manatee team assist FWC almost daily with manatee rescues, supply and, unfortunately, removal of manatee carcasses and required necropsies.
“It’s hard to see the manatees struggling. Seeing a deceased manatee breaks my heart, even though I see it often. I don’t think I’ll ever become insensitive to this and I hope I don’t, because it just adds fuel to the fire that drives many of us to work tirelessly to make a difference for this special species,” Palmer continued.
We have built a team of about 85 people from which we receive a request for assistance from FWC. These people are selected staff and volunteers who have experience with animals and who volunteer their time to these efforts. We have organized two official trainings (on land and on the boat) and various private trainings to build this team.
In the near future, we will most likely supplement our team with a variety of lifesaving equipment. We are also working to become official members of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership, a cooperative of organizations that rescue, rehabilitate and release manatees. Joining this organization is the next step in strengthening our efforts to help this species.
The unusual manatee mortality event continues to be investigated by the FWC and USFWS, but researchers believe the manatees are starving due to the lack of seagrass in the Indian River lagoon. Poor water quality in the lagoon has caused widespread loss of seagrass, according to FWC.
Our Restore Our Shores team continues to advance projects aimed at restoring the organisms that are essential to a healthy lagoon ecosystem: oysters, clams, mangroves and now, sea grasses.
We have also been approved to build a seagrass nursery this year to grow and transplant seagrass into the lagoon. This project is still in its early stages, but we’re excited to share more soon.