#WildlifeWednesday – South Florida Museum Returns Rehabilitated Manatee to the Wild

Icecube returned to the wild Monday, March 6, after about 20 months of rehabilitation at the South Florida Museum. Icecube joined Snooty in the Museum’s Manatee Care Program in July 2015, along with Sarasolo who was released in February of this year. Icecube was rescued from Charlotte Harbour on January 21, 2015 suffering from cold stress. He weighed only 205 pounds at that time. When he arrived at the Museum after his initial treatment in the Lowry Park Zoo’s critical care hospital, he weighed 400 pounds and was 6 feet 11 inches long.

With assistance from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Sea to Shore Alliance, they released Icecube — now weighing in at 815 pounds and measured about 8 feet 7 inches long — at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center at the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach, an area where other manatees are congregating to keep warm.

Since manatees are spread over thousands of miles during the summer, they typically release cold stress rehab animals during the winter months when the animals are grouped together in warmer water sites. Manatees typically start traveling when the water temperatures dip below about 68 degrees F. If they’re exposed to prolonged cold temperatures, as Icecube was, they start to lose body heat and cannot adequately digest their food. That can lead to a condition called cold stress, which can be fatal.

Before his release, Icecube was outfitted with a satellite-linked tag, which will allow us to follow his travels. In conjunction with the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), he will be monitored by our partners at the Sea to Shore Alliance to ensure that he is thriving in the wild. Beginning in the next few days, you can check on Sarasolo and Icecube’s progress at ManateeRescue.org.

“Icecube seemed to take quickly to Snooty. He frequently followed Snooty around their pool – we liked to say Snooty was his mentor,” said Marilyn Margold, Director of Living Collections. “Upon Icecube’s release, he joined a group of approximately 40 manatees, so we have high hopes he will find another mentor in this group.”

Thanks to everyone who has made a donation to help the South Florida Museum care for sick and injured manatees — you made it possible to return Icecube to the wild! The Museum has cared for 30 manatees undergoing rehabilitation, including Icecube.

 

Icecube promptly swam into the open water and joined a group of manatees nearby after being released into the Manatee Viewing area at TECO. He can be seen here with his nose out of the water – breathing at the surface – trailed by his satellite tag.
As the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the South Florida Museum offers engaging exhibits as well as educational programs that interpret the scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world and our universe. In addition to permanent exhibits, the Museum features a constantly changing lineup of temporary exhibitions — offering something new to discover with each visit. The Museum includes the all-digital Bishop Planetarium Theater and the Parker Manatee Aquarium. Celebrating its 50th anniversary year, the Bishop Planetarium is the Gulf Coast’s premier astronomy education facility, outfitted with a state-of-the-art Planetarium and projection system with stunning multimedia capabilities. The Parker Manatee Aquarium is home to Snooty™, Manatee County’s official mascot and the oldest known manatee in the world, as certified by Guinness World Records. Snooty shares his Aquarium pool with other manatees that have been injured or orphaned and are being rehabilitated for return to the wild as part of the Manatee Rehabilitation and Release Partnership.

South Florida Museum hours: 
Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday Noon -5 p.m.
Closed Mondays. 
Visit SouthFloridaMuseum.org for details or call 941.746.4131