The Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut is holding a public viewing of a recently recovered manatee that was rescued off the Cape Cod coast last month. Attendees will enjoy a guided observation of the animal to learn more about this endangered species.

The viewing will be held on the weekend of October 8 in the Gurdon & Kathy Wattles Marine Mammal Observatory, to find out more about “Washburn,” the endangered and recently rescued female manatee. By providing information about manatees and teaching the public about the species, the Mystic Aquarium hopes to raise awareness about its conservation and care.

“Guests are invited to visit Saturday, October 8 and Sunday, October 9 for a unique and limited viewing opportunity,” said the aquarium. Image credit: @Mysticaquarium.

“Mystic Aquarium is honored to have this unique opportunity to educate visitors in our geographic area to the importance of saving the endangered Florida manatee and what we can do in those conservation efforts,” read a statement published by the Aquarium.

Rescuing Washburn

Washburn, an 800-pound female manatee, was admitted to Mystic’s Animal Rescue Program on September 22, after being rescued by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) off the coasts of Falmouth Massachusetts.

The IFAW had been monitoring the manatee since its first sighting in mid-August. Washburn’s rescue had an imminent importance to the IFAW, not only because of its endangered status but also because of the continuous drops of the sea’s temperatures that the species can’t tolerate.

Image credit: Mystic Aquarium.

“The Florida manatee is listed as endangered, making her safety and well-being even more vital and the education of the general public a key component of conservation efforts,” wrote the Aquarium in a press release.

After rescuing Washburn, the aquarium performed medical exams to understand the manatee’s health status and became surprised when they found out she was pregnant. This fact only raised the importance of preserving the species by caring and improving the manatee’s wellbeing.

The Aquarium’s Animal Care Specialists are in charge of monitoring Washburn’s health and determining when would be the right time to return the manatee back to Florida’s coastal waters.

After rescuing Washburn, the Connecticut Aquarium obtained guidance and permission of the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service to perform the public viewing of the manatee.

Manatees are a fully aquatic and herbivorous species that tend to measure almost 13 ft long and weigh up to 590 kilograms. Belonging to the species Trichechidae, there are currently three types of known manatees in the world, the Amazonian manatee, the West Indian Manatee and the African manatee.

Manatees eat thanks to their flexible upper lip with which they gather food and communicate with each other. The species is commonly confused with dugongs; however, its primary distinction is their paddle-like tail similar to a whale’s tail.

They tend to be solitary animals, except for female manatees with their young ones. According to investigations, the species spends 50 percent of their time sleeping submerged in water and surfacing for air every 20 minutes.  Their range of life is calculated at 60 years.

This species is known for its slow movements. They tend to swim at almost eight kilometers per hour, but have a strong communication system, and researchers have determined they have a “complex associative learning” and long-term memory.

Manatees live in coastal areas of the Caribbean sea and are also found in the Gulf of Mexico, but depending on the species they prefer warmer or cooler waters. Even though the species tends to stay near their original waters, there have been spottings of Manatees in New York City and on the Mississippi river.

Currently, the primary causes of death of the species are human-related things such as the destruction of their habitat or objects on it. There have been reports of manatees dying due to boats hitting them with their engine vane or getting stuck near power plants.

According to Bagheera, a website dedicated to the conservation of endangered animals, in 1990 over 200 manatees (12 percent of the U.S population of the species) died because of boating accidents or suffered severe injuries.

Coastal development has reduced the species population, leaving only  2,000 manatees across the U.S. This has increased the conservational actions to preserve the species across the country. There have been initiatives such as manatees sanctuaries to prevent the animals from extinguishing and educational efforts to teach the public about their situation.

Source: Mystic Aquarium