VIDEO: Manatee Wears Life-Saving Wetsuit From SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team

By  //  May 22, 2015

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manatee was injured by a water craft

ABOVE VIDEO: SeaWorld’s animal rescue team has created a custom made animal wet suit for an injured manatee to help it stay afloat. (All manatee rescue footage produced by SeaWorld under FWS Permit Number MA7701911)

ORLANDO, FLORIDA  – On Sunday, May 10, many mothers were receiving flowers, cards and chocolates from their loved ones; one special mother received a gift that would save her life, it was a bright pink wetsuit.

The wetsuit was provided by the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team when they responded to assist and rescue a distressed mother and her still nursing calf near Satellite Beach, Fla.

The 10-year-old mother manatee was injured by a water craft strike and is currently being treated at SeaWorld for buoyancy issues due to a collapsed lung.

The condition is known as a pneumothorax and it was potentially caused by the blunt force of the boat striking the mother. For a manatee, not being able to float evenly in the water is a serious issue, causing problems with feeding, swimming and coming up to the surface for air.

To treat the pneumothorax the SeaWorld Veterinary Team needed to draw out trapped air and fluids from around the manatee’s lungs.

Her calf is estimated to be 2 years old and, although he was unharmed by the water craft, he is still nursing and dependent on his mother. It is important that the pair remain together as the calf continues to grow and learn from its mother.

On Sunday, May 10, many mothers were receiving flowers, cards and chocolates from their loved ones; one special mother received a gift that would save her life, it was a bright pink wetsuit. (SeaWorld image)

About the “Manatee Wetsuit”

• Made from 20 square feet of hot pink neoprene, the wetsuit attaches around the mother’s body with a fabric hook and loop fastener.

• In past rescues, custom floating inserts have been attached to the wetsuit to help the manatee float evenly in the water; the inserts can be moved around and eventually removed as the issue corrects throughout the rehabilitation.

• The wetsuit provides even stability around the mother’s thoracic cavity which can help prevent pockets of air and fluid from returning.

• The custom made “manatee wetsuit” was designed 25 years ago for such rescue cases.

• SeaWorld sent specific measurements to a wetsuit manufacturer to create this unique treatment tool.

• Special considerations were made when using the wetsuit as part of the treatment so it would not interfere with natural behaviors, such as the calf’s nursing.

Over the next several weeks, the SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue team will continue to closely monitor the mother manatee’s progress and ensure her calf is still properly nursing by her side.

If you see an injured marine animal, you can help by calling the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.

About SeaWorld’s Manatee Rescue Program

So far in 2015, SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team has rescued 27 manatees and returned 27. The goal, as with every rescue, is to return the manatee back to its natural environment once strong enough to survive on its own.

SEAWORLD-LOGO-180In collaboration with the government and other members of stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the ocean. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 25,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than five decades. As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), SeaWorld Orlando is an acute care rehabilitation facility that provides life-saving medical care to rescued manatees.