A manatee named Lagoona has a new home at the South Florida Museum.
Lagoona, who is about 2 years old, was rescued May 29 from Mosquito Lagoon on the east coast of Florida, according to the museum.
The female manatee was found with large wounds on her left shoulder and skull from a propeller, the museum reports. When she arrived at SeaWorld’s treatment facility, her prognosis was poor, but she has managed to survive.
“The CT scan showed a full thickness fracture at the back of her skull, and she appeared to be in grave condition,” said museum veterinarian David Murphy in a statement. “But during her time in critical care at SeaWorld, they were able to treat her for infection and give her wounds time to heal. Now, she appears to be doing much better. Bringing her to the museum should give her the time she needs to continue to heal and improve for her eventual return to the wild.”
She comes to the museum’s Stage 2 Manatee Rehabilitation Aquarium now that her initial critical-care needs have been met, and can can spend anywhere from a few months to a year in the aquarium before being released, according to the museum.
But the new hello doesn’t come without a goodbye.
The museum’s rehabilitation aquarium can only hold three adult manatees at a time, so Randall — who has been cared for by the museum since May after he was rescued from Putnam County — was taken to SeaWorld.
The good news for Randall, he’s expected to be released off the east coast this week, according to the South Florida Museum.
Lagoona is in good company with the two other manatees the museum is currently rehabilitating — Baca and Gale.
Baca is a nearly 400-pound male rescued from the Banana River in Cocoa Beach in January after suffering from cold stress. Gale was rescued as a calf in December, and she now weighs nearly 600 pounds.
Laguna is the newest manatee to come to the South Florida Museum since the death of the beloved manatee Snooty in July, just after the celebration of his 69th birthday.
After Snooty’s death, a third-party review found the Manatee County mascot’s death after he got stuck in an underwater panel and drowned was “preventable.” Snooty lived at the South Florida Museum most of his life and was the oldest manatee in captivity.
“We’re always going to be sad about Snooty, but we are happy we are doing our part to rehabilitate manatees,” South Florida Museum Provost Jeff Rodgers told Spectrum Bay News 9.
But one resident who spoke to Bay News 9 felt it is too early to welcome another manatee.
“So soon — it’s like are you’re not really mourning Snooty and giving him what he deserves for the life he lived here,” said resident Amber Larowe. “I don’t know, I don’t really know how I feel about that.”
The museum has since made changes to staffing, created a new work order for maintenance, and instituted new dive check lists, according to Bay News 9.
In light of Lagoona’s injuries, the museum urges boaters to be aware and watch out for manatees in the water as the temperatures drop and they seek warmer waters.
“In the summer months, manatees are spread throughout our waterways,” said Jessica Schubick, the museum’s communications manager, in a news release. “But in the fall they start moving to places with warmer water where they can spend the winter months. That means boaters may be more likely to encounter manatees in shallow areas and should take extra care to watch out for manatees on the move right now.”
Boaters are encouraged to stay away from seagrass beds where manatees could be feeding and look out for a snout, back, tail or flipper breaking the surface of the water.
In Florida, November is Manatee Awareness Month.
If you see a sick, injured or dead manatee, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on your cell phone. You can also text message Tip@MyFWC.com or use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio.