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Crews search for distressed manatee in West Palm Beach

Sea cow seen floating sideways at FPL's Manatee Lagoon
Today, A search and rescue mission had a disappointing outcome for one injured manatee.
Posted at 4:57 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 05:53:36-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Wednesday, a search and rescue mission had a disappointing outcome for one injured manatee. But FPL’s Manatee Lagoon tells WPTV NewsChannel 5 it’s still an opportunity for them to tell the struggles of the sea cows to its visitors.

“We had more than 50 in the outflow deck this morning," said Angela Cruz Ledford a spokesperson FPL’s venue.

One sea cow in the aggregation, in distress, “We noticed one who was swimming sideways. We had visitors who saw first-hand the manatee swimming sideways. They asked our Manatee Masters, 'Is this sea cow oaky?'”

The manatee did not seem okay, as it was unable to dive underwater for seagrass. Manatee Lagoon officials think it was possibly struck by a boat and has a punctured lung.

“As soon as we see a manatee in distress we are instantly in contact with FWC," Ledford said. A team of 10 on the Florida Fish and Wildlife’s special patrol searching for a marine mammal that is approximately 10 feet long and - when healthy - should weigh about 1,000 pounds.

“The manatee did swim away. These are wild animals. They do what they want to do,” said a disappointed Ledford.

The Center’s Manatee Master continues to keep watch for any sign. Even asked to see Chopper 5 footage from Wednesday morning in hopes of seeing where the manatee was last spotted.

The lagoon staff hopes the injured sea cow will return to seek the comfort of the FPL plant, “They seek out these warm water bodies. And the clean warm water outflow draws them here during the cold temperatures we are seeing right now," said Ledford.

FPL hopes education at its center will help prevent more strikes, “One of the challenges that can come with Florida residents, especially new boaters, is they may just not have the awareness of the marine life that’s out there,” said Ledford, “We are so on fire to help them learn about what they can do, why they need to obey the boating speed limit laws and the damage that can be done by one boat strike. If you look at the manatees of Manatee Lagoon you’ll see the patterns of white scars on their back that bear testimony to the injuries that they’ve suffered.”

The lagoon will continue to search for the injured sea cow with the help of FWC