TARPON, Fla. (WTSP) – A large-scale rescue effort to save several manatees who made their way into Lake Tarpon through the floodgates during Tropical Storm Colin will get underway Thursday morning. Those water control structures will not reopen until the next rainy season, and officials want to make sure the manatees are placed in warmer water before the temperatures drop.
Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Florida, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and more will gather around 9 a.m. at the John Chestnut Sr. Park in Palm Harbor to search for animals that might still be in the lake.
FWC spokesperson Michelle Kerr said they believe there are three to four manatees still in the water, and although manatees can survive on both fresh and saltwater, it is the cold water that is concerning.
Manatees do not do well in water temperature below 68 degrees, so biologists and other environmental workers want to get the animals out of Lake Tarpon and into warmer waters.
Any manatees workers find will be assessed for health reasons and possibly taken to SeaWorld if they have any problems. Otherwise, they will be released at Safety Harbor.
In the meantime, FWC officials are asking people to report any manatee sightings in Lake Tarpon to 727-224-6720.