MIAMI, Fla. – On Tuesday, after one and a half months of rehabilitation at Miami Seaquarium, Ilya the wayward manatee was released back into the familiar waters of his home state. Ilya’s October rescue from a warm-water outflow at the ConocoPhillips Bayway Refinery in Linden was coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ilya was first transported to a heated indoor pool at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, where his health was assessed by a veterinarian to determine if he was fit for transport back to Florida. He was found to be in surprisingly good health, suffering from only a mild case of cold stress syndrome, and was flown back to the Sunshine State on Oct. 29, aboard a Coast Guard C-130 cargo aircraft. Once Ilya was back in Florida, he was transported to Miami Seaquarium for rehabilitation.
Patrick Rose, executive director of Save the Manatee Club said, “There are many individuals, groups, and agencies responsible for Ilya’s amazing success story. These include all the caring individuals who pitched in from groups such as the New Jersey Marine Mammal Stranding Center; the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Point Pleasant Dive and Rescue Team; the Refinery; the Coast Guard; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release Program; and Miami Seaquarium.”
“We’re all rooting for Ilya,” said Robert Rose, curator at Miami Seaquarium. “We really hope he decides to stick around home and not get the traveling urge again.”
Manatees need water above 68 degrees Fahrenheit to survive. Although most of the manatees who wander north make it back safely on their own, others would die from cold stress without rescue efforts.
“The rescue and release of Ilya illustrates the commitment and dedication of so many agencies and individuals to the survival of manatees,” said Dr. James Powell, executive director of Sea2Shore Alliance.
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