TAMPA, Fla. — Although the official end to manatee season was a few weeks ago, the effort to save the sea cows goes on all year long.
Now, rescue workers have a new tool to help get those rescued manatees to locations where the mammal can receive the attention they need.
It’s a new, specially equipped transport vehicle designed specifically for the gentle giants. Sadly, FWC has confirmed nearly 500 more manatee deaths already this year. So, the new transport vehicle is considered a real potential lifesaver.
The new truck, which was donated by Florida Power and Light, is equipped with a diesel engine, enabling it to go long distances. There are also cameras to help monitor the manatees and a 3,000-pound lift.
The inside is also designed to make the manatee’s ride less stressful.
“For this truck, we also have a water reservoir installed, so we’re able to fill it up with our hose,” said Amber Howell with FWC. “And then it has a sprayer so that we can keep the manatee cool and comfortable during a transport.”
“Manatees faced a tougher year that they ever have in 2021, and this year they are continuing to struggle. That’s why everything that we can do to support them, including FPL donating this manatee rescue transport truck is a step in the right direction,” said FPL’s Angela Ledford.
It didn’t take long for the truck to start seeing action.
FWC rescued a 10-foot, 1,000-pound manatee that appears to have been struck by a boat near the Florida Keys this week and successfully transported that sea cow to SeaWorld in Orlando.
The truck is also brightly wrapped with images and contact information encouraging the public to donate and save the manatees.
For now, the new truck is stationed near FPL‘s Manatee Lagoon in Palm Beach County, but it is capable of responding anywhere in the state and transporting manatees for rescue, rehabilitation and release back into their natural habitat.
Dozens of sea cows rescued this season were still being rehabilitated at places like SeaWorld and other aquariums around the state.