PORT SAINT JOHN, Florida – A twice-rescued manatee was released into the Indian River Lagoon on Wednesday by the Jacksonville Zoo near the FPL power plant in Port Saint John, Florida in the hopes that 3-year-old manatee will learn to return to the power plant’s warm waters whenever a cold snap occurs.
The 873-pound female manatee named BriarRose was first rescued by SeaWorld after she was found beached in New Smyrna Beach, Florida in 2018.
BriarRose was later transferred to the Jacksonville Zoo before being released in November 2018 in Oak Hill, Florida. After her first release, the manatee quickly found a feeding area and other manatees.
But when a cold front caused all of the manatees except BriarRose to travel to warmer water, she was proactively rescued again in December 2018 before she became cold-stressed.
“The plan since BriarRose’s re-rescue was to make sure she was healthy and then wait until the following late fall or early winter, after the first few significant cold fronts, to release her directly into the warm water at the power plant discharge,” Jacksonville Zoo Marine Mammal Response Team leader Craig Miller said in a release.
“This would allow her to feel the difference between the warm water outflow and the colder, ambient water in the surrounding waterway.”
“It’s always a good day when we can return a manatee back to the wild,” added Miller.