Four rehabilitated manatees have been returned to their natural waterways after successful rescues and rehabilitations by SeaWorld Orlando, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other organizations.
The news of the release this week came from officials with SeaWorld Orlando.
Authorities say the goal with every rescue is to rehabilitate and return the animal as quickly as possible, but young manatee calves take additional time and resources.
All four of these manatees were rescued at young ages and required extended rehabilitation and care, SeaWorld officials said.
Veterinarians say rescued manatee calves must weigh at least 600 pounds before they are considered strong candidates for return by the FWC.
Officials say that weight is optimal to ensure the manatees are less susceptible to cold stress syndrome as they face their first winter in their natural environment.
Prior to all four returns, FWC officials say they recorded final measurements while the outfit Sea to Shore Alliance fitted three of the manatees with a belt that will allow them to monitor their success and track their migration in the wild.
In addition to returning four rehabilitated manatees, SeaWorld Orlando officials say they transferred a young rescued manatee to the Jacksonville Zoo.
As part of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, facilities are able to work together shifting rehab animals between facilities to ensure future rescues are not turned away.
With the Jacksonville Zoo taking this young rescue for continued rehabilitation, SeaWorld Orlando says it now has more space for future critical rescues.