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Orphaned baby manatee rescued in the Keys

Calf discovered under dock now safe with older orphan

Adam Keaton, left, of Dolphin Research Center and Hillary Cassel, right, of the Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Rescue Team, capture an orphaned infant manatee off Islamorada.
Adam Keaton, left, of Dolphin Research Center and Hillary Cassel, right, of the Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Rescue Team, capture an orphaned infant manatee off Islamorada. (WPLG)

ISLAMORADA, Fla. – An orphaned infant manatee was rescued Saturday after being spotted by homeowners that there was something beneath underwater rocks along their dock.

The Dolphin Research Center’s (DRC) Manatee Rescue Team and volunteers with Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder unit assisted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee to corral the calf with netting. They then successfully scooped the manatee from the water using a large hoop net.

According to the DRC, the manatee may have been without its mother for several days, saying that was an unusual amount of time for the pair to be separated. They did not know why the calf separated from her mom.

She was taken to Miami Seaquarium for treatment and rehabilitation.

DRC described the female as less than four feet long, considered underweight at 65.5 pounds. She was diagnosed with a bacterial infection. On Sunday afternoon, a Seaquarium veterinarian said the manatee was in “guarded condition.”

After evaluation and treatment, she was placed in a pool with an older orphaned female manatee. Those caring for the small calf said she is sticking close to the older orphan’s side.