• Manatee dies after being hit by propeller near Mayport

    By: Courtney Cole , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A female manatee hit by a boat propeller on Wednesday afternoon in the Mayport area has died, according to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

    FWC got a call around 9 a.m. that the hurt manatee was in Sisters Creek.

    "Once we got a photo, we were able to confirm it was hit by a boat. So you can see the propeller marks going down the side that are white-ish in color," Allison Perna told Action News Jax. 

    Perna is a Marine Mammal Biologist for FWC.

    According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the manatee's lungs were damaged.

    That's why the agency thinks the mammal made it's way over to an area in Mayport with shallow water.

    That's helpful to the manatee, because FWC says air was escaping one of its lungs -- and it was struggling to breathe.

    Action News Jax's Courtney Cole could see the manatee coming up for air every 30 seconds to 1 minute. FWC biologists said the average is every 6 minutes.


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    The crew that worked to rescue the 1,100 pound manatee is made up of FWC employees and Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens volunteers.

    The manatee died on the way to the zoo where it was going to be treated.

    According to the FWC, 25-30% of manatee deaths, statewide, are due to boat incidents.

    FWC said it anticipates more of these types of injuries because of more boats on the water at this time of year.

    FWC said it is important for people to call 1-888-404-3922 when they see manatees in distress, even if they're not sure if the manatee is hurt

    Dan Maloney, deputy director at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, said the manatee did not survive transportation to the zoo's critical care center. Here's his full statement:

    “We’re very sad to report the animal did not survive transportation to our Critical Care Center at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Our Marine Mammal Response Team assisted FWC in the rescue and did everything we could for the female who was struck by a boat, but it was not enough to get her here for further help. This is all the more reason to encourage boaters to slow down and keep a careful eye out for these animals year-round, especially during the summer.”

    The Zoo is urging boaters to slow down for manatees:

    “Summertime is both a busy season for boaters, and sadly, our Manatee Critical Care Center,” said Craig Miller, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Curator of Mammals and leader of the Marine Mammal Response Team. “A record number of 119 Florida manatees were killed in 2018 due to boat strikes and this year is shaping up to be an even larger number. We are urging boaters to slow down this summer, wear polarized sunglasses, and stay in deep water whenever possible to minimize manatee strikes.” 

    If you're going to be one of the thousands of boaters out on the water this holiday, here are some things FWC says you can do to prevent harming or killing a manatee:

    • Make sure you following the "slow speed" rules in Manatee zones.
    • Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare on the water, so you can see manatees more easily.
    • If you're in a powerboat and you spot a manatee -- stay at least 50 feet away.

    If you think you've hit a manatee, or see an injured manatee, call the FWC Hotline right away: 1-888-404-3922.
     

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