VIDEO: Cold-stunned manatee pulled from Texas City canal in rare rescue

TEXAS CITY, Texas – Rescue groups in Texas pulled a cold-stunned manatee from a Texas City canal in early December.

Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, the conservation group responsible for rescuing stranded, injured or out-of-habitat marine animals in Texas, said the manatee was found on Friday Dec. 3 in a canal miles from its natural habitat – the docile sea cows are typically found in estuaries, canals, and slow-moving rivers and are concentrated in Florida.

When rescue teams arrived, they determined the manatee was in critical condition. Underweight at 810 pounds, the manatee was suffering from acute cold stress syndrome, the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network said.

“Due to the manatee’s critical condition, time was of the essence, and it was an outstanding effort from partners and entities across Texas to mobilize personnel and resources in support of this rescue effort,” said Heidi Whitehead, Executive Director of the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

In a video of the rescue, over a dozen volunteers from animal care and conservation organizations are seen working together to pull the manatee from the canal.

The manatee was transported to SeaWorld San Antonio where he’s receiving around-the-clock care. After the manatee is rehabilitated, he will be released back into the wild in Florida where he’s thought to have originated from.

According to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, cold stress occurs in marine animals as winter approaches and temperatures drop.

“In manatees, cold stress typically causes bleaching of their skin, visible abscesses, unresolved sores, a heavy barnacle or algae load, lethargic behaviors, and loss of weight,” a press release from the organization reads. “Manatees are most susceptible to cold stress if they cannot find sufficient warm water sources during periods of colder weather.”

Anyone who sees a manatee in the area is urged to contact the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which will determine if the manatee needs assistance. Texans can report manatee sightings to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-800-9MAMMAL (1-800-962-6625).


About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.