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$3.5 million given to Clearwater Marine Aquarium for manatee rehabilitation pool
Florida Governor Desantis signed the funds over to help enhance and expand the State's manatee acute care facilities
According to an organizational release,1 Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) received $3.5 million to fund the construction of new manatee rehabilitation pools, as well as extended manatee research. The funds are part of a record $20 million set to enhance and expand the State's manatee acute care facilities and to restore spring access and habitat restoration in manatee concentrated areas.
CMA plans to break ground by the end of this summer on a 20'x 30' rehabilitation pool at its Island Estates location. When completed, the pools will hold two manatee patients at a time.
"For over a decade, Clearwater Marine Aquarium has assisted in rescuing, transporting, releasing, and tracking wild manatees with our colleagues in the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership and throughout the Caribbean," said president and executive director, James "Buddy" Powell, in the release.1
"We are absolutely thrilled that we are now able to establish a new manatee research and rehabilitation facility here in Pinellas County," he continued.
The acute care facility at CMA is part of a three-phase Manatee Survival Plan announced earlier this year. The second phase includes the construction of three manatee rehabilitation pools at CMA's Fred Howard Park location in Tarpon Springs and the final phase involves a $10 million state-of-the-art facility back at CMA's Island Estates location.
At least 575 manatees have died this year through June 3, according to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Last year, 1,101 manatees died, more than any year on record. This increased mortality rate is because of the dying vegetation on the Florida coast. The manatee diet consists of over 100 pounds of underwater vegetation per day. Due to environmental issues in these areas, the lack of seagrasses results in these manatees dying of starvation.2
In the Indian River Lagoon specifically, it has been estimated by researchers in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that almost 90% of the seagrass in this area has died off.2
"Saving Florida's manatees takes immense coordination, resources, and partnerships," Powell added. "Clearwater Marine Aquarium is committed to this mission and our team of researchers, biologists, and veterinarians are ready to assist with the continued influx of manatees affected by habitat loss, red tide, boat injuries, and cold stress syndrome."
"Clearwater Marine Aquarium is exceptionally positioned to establish manatee rehabilitation facilities in Pinellas County. We have all seen the devastating news about record manatee deaths, reversing this will take immense coordination, resources, and partnerships," said the Mayor of Clearwater, Florida, Frank Hibbard, in the release.
"As a leader in the marine biology field, they are the forefront experts in manatee conservation and protection along with marine life rescue, rehabilitation, and release.”1
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium receives $3.5 million for manatee research and rehabilitation pools. News release. Clearwater Marine Aquarium. June 16, 2022. Accessed June 17, 2022. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/clearwater-marine-aquarium-receives-3-5-million-for-manatee-research-and-rehabilitation-pools-301569718.html
- Manatees continue to struggle here in Florida. Ecology Florida. Published February 24, 2022. Accessed June 17, 2022. https://www.ecologyflorida.org/2022/02/manatess-continue-to-struggle-here-in-florida/