What’s the right way to help a hurt or stranded manatee?

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Florida is home more than 6,131 manatees. With that massive number of animals it is quite common to see beached, stranded or injured manatees, particularly during the winter in Crystal River. For example, female manatees can get stranded or beached when pursued by males. Usually a mating herd comprises of up to 20 males pursuing one female. When the females get tired of the attention, sometimes their best route out of it is to beach themselves hoping that the males will not follow them. In the process, manatees may find themselves stuck in mud even up to 100 yards from deeper water, hurt or stranded.

So what should you do when you find a stranded, injured or beached manatee?

Well, you don’t have to let the manatee die there. But you shouldn’t try to move the manatee yourself. While helping a hurt, stranded or beached manatee yourself is a good step and shows that you really care, you may injure the animal or worsen the injury as you try to help. You should remember that the animal is stranded or beached there for a reason and you likely don’t have the expertise to assess and establish that reason. Therefore, you should call the experts who really know how to handle the animals and can provide the necessary help.

Besides, you should not try to touch or remove a stranded or beached manatee yourself because the animal may behave in a powerful and aggressive way. For example, a male manatee may feel cornered and endangered, acting aggressively toward you and even pursuing you. But a female manatee may try to avoid you by moving farther into shallow water where, if the tide later goes out, she could be even more stranded. The animals are also federally protected and should not be touched or harassed in any way. So the best action is never to interfere with stranded, beached or injured manatees and just call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials to come to the site, assess the animal’s health and provide the necessary help.

Reporting a stranded, sick or beached manatee

When you spot a stranded, beached or injured manatee, report immediately to the FWC for proper assistance and relocation. Don’t try to help the animal back into the water for you may not know the problem the animal has. In many cases, stranded manatees are either hurt or sick and pushing them back into the water will delay help or reduce their chances of being reached by rescue teams. The animal may even get re-stranded in a far worse condition. That is why if you spot a stranded manatee, you need to keep a safe distance and call the FWC Hotline 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), pressing 7 to speak with an operator as soon as possible.

So what’s the right way to help a hurt or stranded manatee? There is only one thing you must do. And it is quite easy. Call the FWC Wildlife Alert at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or send a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.

For more information on manatees and manatee tours in Crystal River, Fl., visit the Captain Mike’s Swimming with the Manatees website.

Swimming with the Manatees boasts the best water adventure in Crystal River, Florida with lots of things to do for you and your family. For more information, contact us online, or call us at (352) 571-1888.

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