Entangled manatee freed from rope, crab traps in Clearwater

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida wildlife officials and Tampa Bay animal organizations recently rescued a manatee entangled in crab traps, rope and fishing line.

On Nov. 16, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was alerted to a manatee in distress near Island Estates in Clearwater Bay.

A rescue team could not respond to the entangled manatee until the next day, due to the weather conditions, according to a news release from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA). With the help of ZooTampa, they located the 9.5-foot manatee, tagged it with a radio transmitter and attempted to rescue it, but there were too many other manatees in the area to carry out the rescue.

“We continued to assist with scouting for the animal over the weekend and tracking reports, and the animal was consistently reported in waters within or nearby Island Estates,” said Hannah Rogers, Senior Rescue Biologist at CMA.

The team tracked the manatee down in the Mandalay channel on Monday. They discovered that not only was the line wrapped around the base of the manatee’s tail, it also had four stone crab traps hanging off of it.

Crews disentangled the manatee and checked it over before releasing it back into the ocean. Anyone who spots an injured, orphaned, entangled, distressed or dead manatee is urged to call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at (888) 404-3922.

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