Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Manatees stranded by Tropical Storm Debby rescued

TARPON SPRINGS — Tropical Storm Debby moved on, but stranded wildlife are among those still feeling its effects.

A pregnant manatee stuck in Lake Tarpon was the latest to be rescued and returned to its habitat Friday.

The roughly 11-foot, 1,600-pound manatee was trapped after Debby's historic rainfall forced officials to open the floodgates in the outfall canal leading from Lake Tarpon to Old Tampa Bay. After the gates were closed, the manatee was left with no way out.

A team from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was dispatched Friday morning to track down the manatee in the large freshwater lake. In less than two hours, the team had found the animal in the northeast corner of the lake and secured it in a net.

There was just one problem: The mammal was enormous.

"We had the hardest time getting her on the boat," said Martine de Wit, a veterinarian with the team. "It was a big animal."

Realizing they would not be able to transport the sea cow back to the bay by themselves, the team called the Tarpon Springs Fire Department for assistance. Together, 15 people from the two agencies succeeded in pulling the manatee up the Anderson Park boat ramp and into a U-Haul.

They drove her to Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs, a popular hangout for manatees, and released her. From the bayou, manatees can make their way to the Anclote River and then the Gulf of Mexico.

On Thursday, a team from the commission also rescued a manatee from a pond near Oldsmar's Bicentennial Park and released it in Old Tampa Bay. The manatee — one of two spotted in the pond — apparently swam there from the bay while water levels were high because of the tropical storm. When the water receded, the manatee was left with no way back to the bay.

On Friday, the team was also looking for two other manatees — a mother and calf — stuck in Lake Tarpon.

The pair was spotted Friday in an area of the lake inaccessible by boat, said Andy Garrett, a biologist with the team. The earliest the team will be able to attempt a rescue is Monday morning, said Kevin Baxter, spokesman for the commission.

The pregnant manatee rescued from Lake Tarpon on Friday stayed calm throughout its capture and transport to Spring Bayou, de Wit said. That is, until release, when it slapped its tail against the water, dealing the captors a parting splash before heading out into the bayou.

Andy Thomason can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or athomason@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Manatees stranded by Tropical Storm Debby rescued 06/29/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 29, 2012 8:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fennelly: Bucs' Roberto Aguayo has his backers, no matter how many kicks he misses

    Bucs

    He was perfect Friday, and not just because he didn't have to kick.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) takes a photo with fans following the first day of training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, July 28, 2017.
  2. Starbucks to close all Teavana locations, including five in Tampa Bay

    Retail

    Local Teavana locations include Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg, International Plaza and Westfield Citrus Park in Tampa, Brandon and Clearwater.

    Starbucks announced Thursday plans to shut down all 379 Teavana stores, citing "underperformance." Starbucks acquired the mall-based tea chain for $620 million in 2012. [ CANDICE CHOI | AP file photo]
  3. What to watch this weekend: 'The Last Tycoon,' 'Room 104,' 'Rick and Morty'

    Blogs

    Checking in: Room 104

    Listen up, fans of Hitchcock and American Horror Story. Room 104 might be your next obsession. With a premise that feels experimental, Room 104 explores one of film's most traditional styles - telling a story from the inside of just one room. The HBO series is from …

    Each episode of Room 104 follows the guests of a single motel rom and the strange and wonderful things they experience.
  4. Rubio: I intend to keep campaign promises on Obamacare

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - Sen. Marco Rubio says he remains committed to overturning Obamacare following the collapse of the latest attempt.

  5. Family spokeswoman: British baby Charlie Gard has died

    World

    LONDON — Charlie Gard, the critically ill British baby at the center of a legal battle that attracted the attention of Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump, has died. He would have turned 1 next week.

    This is an undated photo of sick baby Charlie Gard provided by his family, taken at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. [Family of Charlie Gard via AP]