My Adopted Manatee
All the following info is from my "adoption package" from SavetheManatee.org
Case History: Georgia
First Identified: 1991
Georgia was rescued in Brunswick, Georgia on Sept 18, 1991. She was an orphaned calf and probably a newborn one at that as she was just over feet long and weighed only 64 lbs at the time. Georgia was taken to SeaWorld Orlando, one of several manatee rescue and rehabilitation centers in Florida that are authorized to treat sick or injured manatees or orphaned calves.
After spending the next five and a half years at SeaWorld, Georgia was released back into the wild at Blue Springs State Park on April 29, 1997. At close to six years of age, she was now over ten feet long and weighed 1,635 pounds!
Normally, female manatees nurse their young for one to two years. During that time, the mother manatee will show her youngster everything she knows about finding food or locating warm water sources in the winter. Because they have not had this opportunity, orphaned manatees generally have more difficulty adjusting to life in the wild. So, Georgia was released with another adult manatee named Clover who had already spent some time in the wild. In addition, Georgia was fitted with a satellite tracking device or "tag" for two years, so researchers could monitor her progress.
Clover was not the best traveling companion as she hit the water and immediately headed North. But, Georgia went South a quarter mile and swam into the Blue Spring Run where she has wintered every year since that time. Ranger Wayne Hartley, who tracks the manatees at Blue Spring, notes that this was both lucky and unlucky for her. It was lucky that Georgia found other manatees to hang out with. But it was unlucky because at Blue Spring State Park, Georgia discovered people, and immediately associated them with her kindly caretakers at SeaWorld. That's when the headaches began for the rangers at Blue Spring.
Because she had been effectively raised by people, Georgia saw nothing wrong with swimming with them, which meant that the Blue Spring staff had to constantly keep the people away from Georgia for her own protection. In addition, Georgia was reported checking out fishermen and other boats while out in the St. Johns River. Finally worried about her safety, researchers moved Georgia away from Blue Spring. But, the next winter, she returned to the park with her son, Peaches in tow. A compromise was struck when Save The Manatee Club paid for sings at the park asking people not to touch the manatees. Later, a ban on swimming and diving during manatee season helped solve many of Georgia's people problems.
Still, for all the trouble she's caused, there's something endearing about Georgia. One day, before the swim ban at the park, Ranger Wayne reported that Georgia found a pair of jeans hanging from the swim dock, so she grabbed them and took off. Fortunately, she didn't go far before she dropped them. Another time, one of the rangers went home after a week of dealing with Georgia and swimmers at the park. He went out to his back yard where the high water had flooded his dock and who should he find, but Georgia - waving her flipper at him.
Besides Peaches, Georgia has had three other calves: Savannah and Macon, both females, and a male calf in 2005 who could not be identified and remains unnamed. During the 2006-2007 manatee season, Georgia became a grandmother when daughter Macon gave birth to Mabel.
Blue Spring State Park is near Orange City, Florida, about 40 minutes NorthEast of Orlando. The spring's water naturally maintains a year-round temperature of 72 degrees and is an attractive winter refuge for manatees who seek this warm water when surrounding waterway temperatures become too cold for them to tolerate.
Look for updates on Georgia in the SMC quarterly newsletters and visit www.savethemanatee.org for more information.
Click thumbnail to see Adoption Certificate
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