On Thursday, March 19, animal care staff from The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature returned Collie the manatee to the wild. Partners with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium helped with Collie’s transport and release.
Collie, who had been living at The Bishop’s Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat since her arrival in December 2019, was originally rescued from the Gordon River near Naples in Collier County in June 2019. The sub-adult female manatee had been struck by a boat.
Collie received initial treatment at the manatee critical care hospital at ZooTampa and then moved to The Bishop, a Stage 2 Rehabilitation facility and the place where manatees come after their critical health needs have been taken care of but they’re not quite ready for release.
The Bishop has been conducting manatee rehabilitation since 1998 and was a founding partner of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership — a cooperative group of nonprofit, private, state and federal organizations that participate in manatee population management or manatee rescue and rehabilitation. To date, the Museum has helped to rehabilitate 42 manatees, including Collie. Felicia, Doscal and Viva remain in The Bishop’s care.
“Collie has been a great animal to work with,” said Virginia Edmonds, Director of Animal Care at The Bishop. “She’s ready to go home and pick right back up where she left off. She’s old enough to know her way around and return to a normal manatee life.”
Collie has been healthy and ready to go home for a few months, but her release had been delayed by red tide in nearshore waters. Now, she’s home just in time for Manatee Appreciation Day, which officially takes place on Wednesday, March 25.
Manatee Appreciation Day helps to remind the public that manatees are on the move in the spring. That’s when area waters start to warm up and manatees leave the warm places where they’ve spent the winter and move into their summer feeding and breeding grounds along our coasts.
“Watercraft injuries are one of the leading causes of death for manatees in Florida,” Edmonds said. “So it’s important that boaters stay vigilant by following all manatee speed zones when they’re out on the water. Wearing polarized sunglasses and having someone on the vessel acting as a spotter can also help keep manatees safe in the wild.”