Twenty-six years of post-release monitoring of Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris): evaluation of a cooperative rehabilitation program

Aquatic Mammals
By: , and 

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Abstract

The rescue, rehabilitation, and release of Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) into the wild has occurred since 1974; however, a comprehensive evaluation of the outcomes of the releases has never been conducted. Herein, we examined data for 136 Florida manatees that were rehabilitated and released with telemetry tags between 1988 and 2013 to determine release outcome of each individual as either success (acclimation) or failure after at least 1 y. Ten predictor variables were statistically evaluated for potential relationships to release outcome. To assess the contribution of each predictor variable to release outcome, each variable was tested for significance in univariate analyses. Manatees born in captivity experienced poor success after release (14%), whereas the overall success of wild-born individuals was higher (72%). When compared with other variables in our dataset, number of days in captivity was the strongest predictor for determining success. Manatees rescued as calves and held in captivity for more than 5 y had a high likelihood of failure, while subadults and adults had a high likelihood of success, regardless of the amount of time spent in captivity. Ensuring the success of individual manatees after release is critical for evaluating the contribution of the manatee rehabilitation program to the growth of the wild population.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Twenty-six years of post-release monitoring of Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris): evaluation of a cooperative rehabilitation program
Series title Aquatic Mammals
DOI 10.1578/AM.42.3.2016.376
Volume 42
Issue 3
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher MinuteMan Press
Publisher location Norwich, CT
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 16 p.
First page 376
Last page 391
Country United States
State Florida
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N