PA781 - Dennis / Tex
PA781 was one of the most unusual rescues TMMSN has undertaken! A manatee, a very rare site in Texas, was reported in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus) thrive in the warm waters of Florida and this animal was attempting to warm itself from the cold winter water in Citgo's warm water outflow. The manatee was underweight and the bay was much too cold for him to survive in, TMMSN and officials in Florida were in agreement that a rescue was necessary. Consulting with US Fisheries, Texas Parks and Wildlife, TMMSN veterinarians, and Citgo officials, the TMMSN was able to formulate a plan to rescue the wayward manatee. With the use of a kayak, net, crane (to lift the animal from the water), and a large moving truck, the manatee was captured and brought to the rehab pool at Texas State Aquarium's Sea Lab. Sixteen people were needed to hoist the massive animal into the pool, where he began to slowly swim on his own immediately and was dubbed Dennis. Dennis was underweight at 870 lbs and showed signs of cold stress. After two days, it was determined that for the best interest of the manatee, he should be transported to Florida as soon as possible to continue his rehabilitation. After acquiring the use of another moving truck, various government and state agencies, local media, and volunteers watched as the longest manatee transport on record began. Twenty-four hours later, Dennis and his transport team (consisting of veterinarian Dr. Tim Tristan, Tim Anderson and Pat Clements of US Fish & Wildlife, and TMMSN staff and volunteers Heidi Watts, Sarah Piwetz, Drew Scerbo, Luke Eckert, Dan Mack, and Ken Brown) arrived at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida. After 8 months rehabilitating in Tampa, Dennis (now renamed "Texas"), gained 180 lbs, his cold stress spots healed, and he was released into Florida's Crystal River.
"It's back to the wild today for a manatee who was rescued in January from the cold waters of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.
The 7-year-old, 1,050-pound male mammal now named Texas hits the waters of Florida's Crystal River after eight months of rehabilitation at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. Texas passed his pre-release physical and is strong, healthy and ready to be on his own, according to a news release from the zoo.
Texas will leave the zoo's manatee hospital about 9 a.m. today and be lifted out of the medical pool by crane and transported by vehicle to Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. There he will be loaded into a boat about 10:30 a.m. and released into the spring-fed waters. The refuge is home to about 25 percent of the nation's endangered manatee population, according to its Web site.
Texas arrived in Florida after a 24-hour road trip from Texas State Aquarium's Sea Lab in the back of a rented moving truck. He was pulled out of the cold waters of Corpus Christi Bay on Jan. 3 after he was spotted under a warm-water outflow near a Citgo refinery dock. After a few days in the warm-water tanks at the Sea Lab, crews with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network took the manatee to Florida, where they could better address his rehabilitation.
Officials said Texas was cold-stressed and underweight at 870 pounds. Zoo staff said he likely would have died within two weeks if he had not been rescued in Corpus Christi. Manatee sightings in Texas are rare, and this was the first such transport. The mammals prefer the warmer waters off the coast of Florida.
(Read full article at Caller.com)
Texas has unfortunately found himself in need of rescue once again. He was rescued February 6, 2012 with cold stress. It is speculated that he may have tried to head West again into colder waters. (We guess he just didn't get enough of our Texas hospitality!) Texas was taken back to Lowry Park Zoo and after recovering, he was released back into the Crystal River on May 16, 2012.