Saturday, April 17, 2021

Manatee Rescue



By Natalie Strom

It was at low tide on Tigertail Lagoon when a manatee was spotted stranded in the sand. As the seasons change, tides begin to move in and out faster, and it appeared that this manatee didn’t make it to deep enough waters quite on time.

The manatee was spotted on November 12 by beach goers who contacted the Marco Island Police Department non-emergency phone number (239-389-5050). In turn, Marco’s Environmental Specialist, Nancy Richie, was notified and contacted FWC as well. “It was a successful rescue,” stated Richie, giving much of the credit to Peter Larsen, a new resident to Marco, who stayed with the manatee the entire time. “He kept it wet and assisted me in the pectoral fin positioning. He was a great help and an integral part of this rescue!”

Lee Gunderson, a Volunteer Beach Steward and Collier County Tigertail Beach Park staff also volunteered his time to assist in the rescue.

Gunderson, Larsen and Richie worked with FWC Law Enforcement, Collier County Sheriff, Marco Island Police Department and about a dozen helpful beach goers to keep the manatee comfortable. It was kept nice and wet by lightly spraying

Peter Larson stayed with  the stranded manatee the entire time. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Peter Larson stayed with the stranded manatee the entire time. SUBMITTED PHOTO

it down with water and covering it with a wet towel. The group then waited for the tide to rise.

And it did. Slowly the waters in Tigertail Lagoon near Sand Dollar Split began to surround the manatee, lifting it back out to sea. All involved were excited to see their hard work pay off and to bid farewell to their big brave friend.

If you should ever come across any marine mammal or sea turtle sick, disorientated, stranded or dead, please do not hesitate to call the MIPD number at 239-389-5050 or 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC). This will start the necessary cascade of contacts to the appropriate agencies.

After making the call, Richie recommends to do the following: do not crowd the animal or touch it; stay out of its line of sight (if it is crowded or you are “in its face,” its anxiety level rises, causing respiration to rise and stress); keep as quiet as possible; If you have t-shirt or towel, soak it and lay it gently on its back and wait for help to arrive. Do not pull or try to move the animal, and stay clear of the tails, fins and mouth areas.


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