Wildlife officials rescued an injured manatee in Florida’s Everglades National Park after park visitors reported seeing a “large object” floating in the water, according to the National Park Service.
The manatee had been hit by a motorboat and had air outside its lungs swelling its chest cavity, causing it to float sideways, according to a May 16 statement from Everglades National Park.
The manatee had difficulty swimming, diving and feeding, which allowed “excess” algae and barnacles to grow on its body.
According to the park service, officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission worked with park rangers to catch and transport the manatee to SeaWorld’s Marine Mammal Veterinary Care Center.
“The manatee has made good progress towards recovery,” the statement said. “Although his lungs are still healing and his float is a little off, he has cleared barnacles and excessive algae growth that has accumulated due to mobility issues.”
Also called “sea cows,” manatees can live up to 65 years in captivity and can be over 13 feet long and weigh 3,500 pounds. They can be found in Florida’s rivers, coastal waters and springs, wildlife officials report.
“Some Florida manatees have been known to travel up the east coast of Georgia, the Carolinas, and a few travel as far north as Massachusetts during the warm months,” according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “In the Gulf, Florida manatees can be found west across the Louisiana coast and are occasionally sighted as far west as Texas. Before the coldest winter months, manatees migrate to warm water habitats in Florida.