Manatee remains trapped in Biloxi river

Manatee remains trapped in Biloxi river
Officials say the animal needs to be returned to warmer waters. (Photo source: Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network)

A manatee that became trapped in the waters of Back Bay Biloxi on Friday is still there, but officials say it is not any danger at this time.

SeaWorld Orlando and other agencies spent much of Friday and Saturday on boats looking for the manatee on the Tchoutacabouffa River. However, high tides and deep water helped the animal to evade rescue crews.

"He's up in the river right now, which has deep pockets of up to 60 feet," said IMMS director Moby Solangi. "Thirty to 60 feet is the depth of the area that he's hanging out in, but the net that the rescue teams were using to try and capture him was only about 18 feet deep. So he would just swim under it. He's definitely a smart mammal."

Solangi said on Sunday that rescue crews had left Biloxi, but IMMS -- along with federal and state agencies -- were still monitoring the situation closely for any changes.

"Apparently, the animal is doing okay," said Solangi. "The rescue crews don't feel that it's life-threatening at this time. If the manatee's condition changes, they will come back and try again. We've had our vets and scientists here at IMMS monitoring the situation, also."

According to Solangi, they are all hoping that the manatee will either move into shallower water on its own or find it's own way back to the open waters of the Gulf.

"We see cases like this during the wintertime every now and then. This is really not the manatee's habitat, but to them, temperature is more important," explained Solangi. "In spring and summer, (manatees) have accumulated enough fat that they can live without food a little longer than they can live in cold temperatures. So, to them, warm temperatures are more important. Hopefully, he has been able to survive and, as spring comes in, he may move on his own.

If the manatee's condition becomes life-threatening, the rescue teams will return and attempt to capture the animal once more.

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