A strange scene unfolded in Florida’s Crystal River as witnesses reported a manatee with a fishing lure attached to its flipper, causing immense pain whenever the creature attempted to swim. The Florida Fish and Wildlife officials were alerted to the distressing situation, with one official revealing, “Our staff received a call on Feb. 20 reporting a small, thin manatee in the Three Sisters Springs had a large fishing lure hooked to its face.” This odd predicament highlights the dangers that marine animals face due to human negligence and the importance of proper disposal of fishing gear to prevent harm to aquatic life.
“Our staff received a call on Feb. 20 reporting a small, thin manatee in the Three Sisters Springs had a large fishing lure hooked to its face.”
According to officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the fishing lure that had become tangled in the manatee’s flipper had treble hooks, with one end in the lip and the other end piercing through the flipper. Disturbing video footage shared on Facebook showcased the entanglement of hooks and fishing line that rendered one of the manatee’s flippers unusable.
The distressed creature was observed walking along the river bottom, relying on its remaining flipper to move around. Thankfully, a rescue operation was staged on the same day, resulting in the successful capture of the 2-year-old female manatee using a net. While one end of the fishing lure came out during the rescue process, officials have confirmed that the other end has since been removed.
The 6-foot, 3-inch manatee was quickly transported to ZooTampa at Lowry Park for treatment. Fortunately, the latest update from the zoo reveals that the injured manatee is responding well to antibiotics and is expected to make a full recovery without any permanent damage. While a release date back into the wild is yet to be set, experts are optimistic about the creature’s chances of a successful rehabilitation.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suspects that the manatee became entangled with the fishing lure while feeding in the grass or swimming past someone reeling in a fish. Sadly, entanglement is a common problem for these gentle giants, as evident from the 41 Florida manatees rescued so far this year, including three who were entangled in fishing and crabbing debris. Manatees are a threatened species native to Florida, and it’s estimated that at least 7,520 of them survive in the state’s waterways, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Adult manatees typically grow to between 9 to 13 feet long and weigh as much as 3,500 pounds. Crystal River, located about 80 miles north of Tampa, is a stronghold for these magnificent creatures.