Manatee trapped in Biloxi bayou; rescue to resume Saturday

Manatee trapped in Biloxi bayou; rescue to resume Saturday
(Photo source: Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network)
According to IMMS director Dr. Moby Solangi, Sea World is the lead agency on this rescue attempt. (Photo source: WLOX)
According to IMMS director Dr. Moby Solangi, Sea World is the lead agency on this rescue attempt. (Photo source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - SeaWorld Orlando and other agencies spent much on Friday on boats looking for a lost manatee on the Tchoutacabouffa River.

High tides and deep water made the animal swim under a net crews used to try and rescue the animal. The team wasn't able to rescue the manatee, but workers will be back on the water Saturday.

"He or she is out in the river here swimming and we're trying to get into workable area that we can actually set a net around," said Jon Peterson with SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Ops. "We'll actually pull that animal into the back of our boat. The tide shifted on us a little bit today and we got into deeper water."

Peterson says the manatee likely migrated to the area by accident and needs to be moved into warmer waters.

"SeaWorld brought a crew of five, plus one of our senior veterinarians with us. And then we had an additional - from Dauphin Island and IMMS - we had an additional maybe 10 - 12 people and total of 3 boats," added Peterson. "US Fish and Wildlife was out with their boat, and some of their staff."

If the water turns too cold, the animal may not survive.

"An animal with cold stress, what will happen is the outer extremities will shut down. They're going to pull their core blood back to their core body and keep the body warm.  What you first see is a white muzzle on the front of the face and then you'll see what we call a halo around the paddle, or the back of the manatee," said Peterson. "It's going to start having a halo around it, the pecs are going to get swollen and start turning white."

Cold shock condition in manatees is reversible. Even though the number of manatees in the world are increasing, the team still wants to save the one stranded in Biloxi.

To do so, boaters have been advised to avoid the area.

"What we're trying to do is minimize how many boats are on the water and how many people around. This operation has a lot of moving parts, and the last thing that anybody wants, is one of those moving part not work right because something else came in the way of it," noted Peterson.

Once the manatee is rescued it will be taken to SeaWorld in Orlando, and eventually released into the water at Crystal River, Fla.

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.