The animal care staff at the South Florida Museum has welcomed two young male manatees to the Museum’s Parker Manatee Aquarium. Nicknamed “Icecube” and “Sarasolo,” they join Snooty, the Museum’s long-term resident manatee who, at 66 is the world’s oldest known manatee, along with Myakklemore, a manatee who has been sharing Snooty’s pool since April 2014. “We have a lot of added excitement at the Museum today. We’re always happy to welcome new manatees,” said Marilyn Margold, the Museum’s Director of Living Collections. “These two young manatees will be great companions for Myakklemore. They’ll also help to keep Snooty engaged and ‘on his flippers.’ The Aquarium is operating at full capacity and will not be bringing in any new manatees for rehabilitation until these guys start getting released.”
Both manatees suffered from cold stress and have been undergoing rehabilitation at Lowry Park Zoo, which operates a critical care hospital for injured and sick manatees and orphaned calves. They have been transferred to the South Florida Museum for continued care. Cold stress is a condition similar to frostbite. Manatees generally cannot remain healthy in water colder than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Extended exposure to cold may cause the development of skin lesions and pneumonia. To stay healthy, manatees typically migrate to warmer waters such as springs or power plants. Both young manatees are healthy but need to grow more to be ready for release. “We like manatees to be between 700 – 800 pounds at release to help set them up for success, and if they are going to be tagged, they need to be big enough for the belt we put at the base of the tail to fit well,” according to Margold.
Icecube was rescued from Charlotte Harbour on January 21, 2015. He weighed only 205 pounds at that time, but as of June 24th has grown to more than 400 pounds and is 6 feet 11 inches long. Sarasolo was rescued from Phillippi Creek in Sarasota on March 2 of this year, weighing 276 pounds at that time. He now weighs 366 pounds and is 6 feet 5 inches long. The Museum will care for both manatees, along with fellow rehabilitation manatee Myakklemore, until they are ready for release.
“With these new manatees in our care, it’s a wonderful time to launch our fundraising campaign Carrie’s Match for the Manatees,” announced the Museum’s CEO Brynne Anne Besio. “We’re so pleased to have the continued support of our friend and donor Carrie Yearwood this summer in raising funds for our Manatee Care Program. This year, we have pledges totaling $60,000 in matching funds – so any donations made to the campaign by September 2 will be doubled up to this amount! It’s such a wonderful way for the community’s support of these endangered animals to be stretched even further – so contributors can truly ‘Double Their Good.’ We wouldn’t be able to do it without generous donors like Carrie and the caring public.”
Snooty along with the three resident manatees undergoing rehabilitation at the Museum will eat more than 80,000 lbs. of romaine lettuce and vegetables this year at a cost of over $80,000, and life support costs (electricity and water) total over $55,000 annually for the Aquarium. Since very little state or federal funding is available for the Museum’s Manatee Care Program, we must rely on caring people (like you). Carrie shared, “I find that Snooty is an Ambassador for many things…such as the aquatic environment, awareness of endangered species and his community. There is so much that Snooty and the South Florida Museum bring to the area that we need to give back in his honor.” She continued, “I invite you to join me so that other people can have memories as wonderful as mine.”
The public is welcome to visit the South Florida Museum to view Icecube, Sarasolo, Myakklemore and Snooty as part of the Museum’s general admission. Museum hours are Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday noon – 5 pm. The public can also view Snooty and his new friends Icecube, Sarasolo and Myakklemore live online on the SnootyCam at SouthFloridaMuseum.org/TheAquarium/SnootyCam.
Visitors will also be able to see the manatees in the Spanish Courtyard’s underwater viewing area for FREE during Snooty’s 67th Birthday Bash & Wildlife Festival on Saturday, July 18th from 10 am – 2 pm. Donations can be made to Carrie’s Match for the Manatees online at SouthFloridaMuseum.org or by contacting Dannie Sherrill at 941-746-4131 ext. 11.
As part of the Manatee Rehabilitation and Release Partnership (MRP), the South Florida Museum is a second stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild. Icecube and Sarasolo are the 29th and 30th manatees to be cared for by the Museum in conjunction with the rehabilitation program since 1998. Ace, the most recently released of Snooty’s companions, was released in January of this year and is believed to be doing well in the wild.
The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at www.ManateeRescue.org. The endangered Florida manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.