Three New Manatees Added To Adoption Program

Wayne Hartley takes "manatee roll call" at Blue Spring State Park.
New adoptee Squeaky (at left) with her mother Amber at Blue Spring State Park this winter. (Photo © Wayne Hartley, Save the Manatee Club)

By Nancy Sadusky,
Online Communications Director,
Save the Manatee Club

In April, Save the Manatee Club (SMC) added three new manatees to the Adopt-A-Manatee program. The most recent adoptees are named Squeaky, Annie, and Rocket. They are all winter visitors at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, and are being tracked by Wayne Hartley, SMC’s Manatee Specialist.

At just nine months old, Squeaky is currently the youngest manatee in SMC’s adoption program. She is a female, born to mother Amber on June 13, 2011. We know the exact date of Squeaky’s birth, because she was born at noon in the run at Blue Spring State Park. At present, Squeaky is too little to have much of a biography, but she does have an interesting family history. Squeaky is the “grandcalf” of a manatee named Ann, who gave birth to twins Amber and Amanda. When she was just a calf herself, Amber was discovered alone at Blue Spring and was rescued and spent time at SeaWorld of Florida. Amber was released at Blue Spring in 2009 and has been a regular winter visitor since that time. It is believed that Squeaky is her first calf. After giving birth to Squeaky last summer, Amber returned to Blue Spring this winter with her young calf in tow, much to the delight of the park visitors. Squeaky, comfortable in the area she has known since birth, has been spotted frolicking all over the spring run this season.

Annie is an adult female who was rescued as an orphan in August 2005 from the Halifax River, near Port Orange, Florida. At the time, Annie was just a little over four feet in length and weighed only 70 pounds. Newborn manatee calves are generally about four feet long and weigh about 65 pounds, so Annie was too young to be on her own. After her rescue, she was taken to SeaWorld of Florida, and it was there that she met her friend Rocket.

Annie the manatee
Annie was rescued as an orphan in 2005 and released at Blue Spring in 2008. She was pregnant when she returned to the park this winter. (Photo courtesy USGS, Sirenia Project)
Rocket was also an orphaned calf who had been rescued in 2006 at Blue Spring State Park. He was named “Rocket” because he had been known to “rocket” around the tank during his rehabilitation. Annie and Rocket were in the same tank at SeaWorld, and when they were released two years later, they stayed together for about a year and a half. This behavior is unusual outside of mother and calf pairs, as manatees are known as semi-social, somewhat solitary animals. At the time of their release, Annie and Rocket were both about four years old and should have been going their separate ways. Instead, wherever Annie went, Rocket was sure to follow. The park staff called them the “kids” or the “twins.”

Both Annie and Rocket have returned to winter at Blue Spring, although by now, they have gone their separate ways. Rocket is now his own man(atee), and Annie was very pregnant when she visited the park this winter. It will be interesting to see if she brings a young calf with her when she arrives for the next winter season.

The water at Blue Spring State Park naturally maintains a year round temperature of 72° F and is an attractive winter refuge for manatees. The data compiled by Hartley, a former Park Ranger and Park Service Specialist at Blue Spring, is potentially the longest running manatee genealogy record in the state of Florida.

Each person who adopts Squeaky, Annie, or Rocket will receive a full-color photo, biography, and adoption certificate, as well as a membership handbook and subscription to The Manatee Zone, a newsletter featuring updates on the adopted manatees when they are sighted, and Paddle Tales, SMC’s bi-monthly e-newsletter. For more information about adopting Squeaky, Annie, or Rocket, go to Save the Manatee Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee page or to the Blue Spring Adoptee page, or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

Annie and Rocket at Blue Spring
Annie and Rocket rest beneath the trees at Blue Spring State Park. This photo was taken after their release in 2008. Notice their tracking gear, which includes a transmitter in a floating tube attached by a tether to a belt that fits around the base of the manatee's tail. (Photo © Allen Forrest Brown, Watermark.TV Inc)

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