MIAMI (CBS4) –A mother manatee and her calf were released back into the wild Wednesday after a successful rehabilitation at the Miami Seaquarium.
Nori, a 1,100 pound adult manatee, was rescued on July 13, 2011 from the waters of North Captiva, where she was found floating and unable to dive because a broken rib was puncturing her lung.
Her calf, Cappi, was found next to her mother. She weighed only 48 pounds. Although Cappi was not hurt, it’s believed Nori gave birth to Cappi soon after being struck by a boat, which caused her internal injuries.
“During the last two years, more than one thousand manatees have died,” said Dr. Maya Rodriguez, Miami Seaquarium’s staff veterinarian. “This makes every rescue and release effort that much more important. Today’s pair is truly special for us.”
At first, the Seaquarium staff worried Nori wouldn’t pull through. Veterinarians tried all kinds of technology to help the badly injured mother manatee including an instrument called the Heimlich valve which was created to help soldiers who have been shot in the chest. Dr. Rodriguez explained, “after we did this she was a different manatee and Cappi’s been nursing on her this entire time. She never quit being a mother so we’re really really thankful for this little valve that’s allowing us to release both of them together and not Cappi as an orphan.”
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s preliminary report, 67 manatee deaths have occurred this year from watercraft accidents alone.
Nori and Cappi were loaded onto a truck early Wednesday morning for the drive to Captiva where they were released in front of cheering fans.
Anyone who would like to support Miami Seaquarium’s conservation efforts can join “Miami Seaquarium Gives Back” , which allows guests to save 40-percent on admission after donating $4 to their favorite wildlife charities including, Sea to Shore Alliance (manatees), Sea Turtle Conservacy, R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program (Shark Research and Conservation) and Pelican Harbor Seabird Station (Seabird Rescue & Rehabilitation).