The Department of Marine Resources informs the public that the two manatees that were removed from the Nassau Harbour on 15th October 2011 have been returned to the wild after being under the care of the marine mammal team at Atlantis on Paradise Island.
In November 2009, a manatee was sighted in Spanish Wells harbour, North Eleuthera. Photographs of her distinctive scar patterns were provided to the US Geological Survey’s Sirenia Project where they were matched to “Rita”, an adult female known to be residing in south Florida since 1988.
Shortly after arriving in Spanish Wells, marine mammal care staff from Dolphin Cay (Atlantis Resort) conducted several health assessments of Rita. They determined through ultrasound that she was pregnant and advised locals to provide her with food and water to ensure that she remained well-nourished throughout her pregnancy. In June 2010, she gave birth to a female calf, who locals named Georgie. Rita and Georgie became very popular amongst Spanish Wells residents so much so that Rita’s own Facebook page was launched and now has over 800 friends.
Rita and Georgie continued to frequent Spanish Wells harbour until hurricane Irene passed over Spanish Wells in August 2011, when they disappeared. The next sighting of the wayward pair was in Nassau harbour in October. Due to concern about potential vessel strikes, the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) authorised Dolphin Cay’s marine mammal response team to capture the manatees so their health could be evaluated and they could be maintained until a decision was made about their disposition. On October 15 th 2011, Rita and Georgie were captured and taken to Dolphin Cay, Atlantis Resort.
During their time at Atlantis the manatees have been the recipients of excellent care, have been closely monitored and undergone several examinations by veterinarians and other marine mammal experts.
Local efforts to have the manatees returned to the wild have been spearheaded by the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation (BMMRO), a local non-governmental organisation based at Sandy Point, Abaco. [ . . .]
See BMMRO’s manatee blog at http://bmmro.blogspot.com/