DAUPHIN ISLAND, Alabama (WALA) - RESULTS ARE IN FOR MANATEE'S DEATH
The initial necropsy results are in for the manatee that washed up in Mobile Bay on Christmas day. Cold Stress, or hypothermia, combined with not having enough food likely led to the animal's demise.
It was a first for Alabama. When the male manatee washed up in Mobile Bay on Christmas day he was still alive, barely breathing and clinging to life. Dr. Ruth Carmichael, with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, rushed to the animal's aid and tried to save it.
"People were willing to donate towels," she said. "We got them warm with hot water and just warmed the body with towels, and then put blankets over the animal until we could get a truck there to move the animal."
Unfortunately, the volunteers and researchers didn't have the equipment to deal with the live stranding of a 700-pound manatee, as the animal died in transport. Although, he was in such poor shape it may have not made much difference.
"Once we did perform the necropsy, we were able to determine it was really a functionally dead animal anyway," Dr. Carmichael said.
Dr. Carmichael estimates there's anywhere from 60 to 100 animals that travel to Mobile Bay every year, making them a very small and very unique population of animals. Dr. Carmichael's research shows the same animals make the long journey year after year. Which means the death of this lone male has a significant impact.
"Even losing one of these animals of this relatively small and unique subset is very important," Dr. Carmichael told FOX10.
Over the last four years, four dead manatees have washed up in Alabama waters. Each death is sad, but there is a silver lining, as researchers piece together a picture of these rare animals.
"We're learning what does an Alabama manatee look like, and that's huge because we've never had that information before," Dr. Carmichael said.
So, the loss of this gentle giant may help put a face on these special and rare creatures.
Dr. Carmichael said in recent years, more manatees are being spotted and reported. If you see one, call 866-493-5803.
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