Washburn, The Pregnant Manatee
Washburn was rescued by the International Fund for Animal Welfare off Cape Cod where chilly water temperatures were threatening her safety on September 22nd. She was taken to Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium, where we learned she was pregnant. After roughly 3.5 weeks of rehabilitation, the Cape Cod Coast Guard Air Station flew Washburn to Florida for Rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando on October 18th. Sea to Shore, a Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) partner, has been charged in monitoring her movement via satellite tag as part of one of our ongoing research projects with the Georgia Aquarium and Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Originally tagged to track manatee movements along the east coast of the United States, Washburn has taken us on a journey to the Bahamas, making her the first manatee to cross from Florida to the Bahamas with her tag still intact!
(Photos courtesy of IFAW and Teresa Calleson of US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Nov. 1 Washburn has been released back into the wild after about 2 weeks at SeaWorld Florida.
“Her movements out to feeding locations and to resting sites indicates to me that she is familiar with the area and is quickly adapting as expected.” – Monica Ross, Research Scientist, Sea to Shore Alliance.
Nov. 12-16 Washburn left Ponce Inlet traveling South 4 and 24 miles offshore in the Gulf Stream.
Nov. 24 Tag locations indicate she was 12 miles of the outbank of the Bahamas, where temperatures were 26-27C. She then continued on towards the Bahamas the following day and passed southwest of Walkers Cay.
Nov. 26 3p.m. Washburn was spotted resting northeast of Double Breasted Cay by Diane Claridge at the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation! Although manatee sightings in the Bahamas have increased over the past years, Washburn is now the first manatee to cross from Florida to the Bahamas with her tag intact.
Nov. 29 BMMRO scientists recovered Washburn’s belt and tag, but so far have not had luck locating Washburn. Official press release can be found here.