810-pound manatee hoisted from Texas canal in rare rescue

Video shows manatee being rescued from Texas canal after cold water left sea cow stunned

Animal care specialists with SeaWorld San Antonio and various rescue organizations and conservation agencies worked together to rescue a manatee that managed to make its way up a canal.

TEXAS CITY, Texas – SeaWorld San Antonio along with several other conservation organizations came to the rescue of a stranded manatee in a Texas canal — a rare occurrence since manatees don’t usually live in the state.

The stranded sea cow was reported by a local fisherman on Dec. 3. He was underweight, tipping the scales at 810 pounds, and was suffering from acute cold stress syndrome due to the lack of suitable habitat conditions, according to SeaWorld San Antonio spokesperson Chuck Cureau.

“He was very slow moving, lethargic and we saw these white spots on his body, these white demarcations of cold stress,” said Vice President of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld San Antonio Steve Aibel.

Manatees are typically found in estuaries, canals, and slow-moving rivers, and are concentrated in Florida where the water is warmer.

“In the weeks coming, SeaWorld animal care specialists will monitor the manatee’s health and behavior which will indicate if and when it is safe to return him to his natural environment,” said Abiel.

Animal care experts believe the manatee migrated from its natural habitat in search of food, which is diminishing due to the destruction of natural sea habitats in Florida, according to a press release from SeaWorld San Antonio.

The manatee was transported to SeaWorld San Antonio immediately after the rescue and is being rehabilitated before he’s released in Florida waters.

“Our rescue team is always ready and capable to answer the call and work with our partners in Texas when an animal is in need. The safe rescue of this manatee is very important but only the beginning of the work ahead of us,” said Aibel.

SeaWorld, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Texas State Aquarium, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Galveston Bay Foundation, Galveston County and local law enforcement answered the call to help.

“We’re all standing together for animals and we can make a difference for not only this manatee, but many animals that we’re sharing this planet with,” said Abiel.

Manatees are warm-blooded and exposure to frigid water can cause bleaching of their skin, visible abscesses, unresolved sores, a heavy barnacle or algae load, lethargic behaviors and weight loss.

To learn more about SeaWorld’s rescue efforts, click here.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.