Matthew’s new life in Blue Spring State Park will be tracked with a radio-telemetry device.
Remember “Matthew,” the malnourished manatee that was rescued in October 2021 from the OUC Indian River Plant canal?
On Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, he was released at Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County, weighing a healthy 720 pounds as he entered the freshwater environment. He was observed exploring his new home and socializing with the other manatees. Click here to watch above-water and underwater live web cams showing manatees and other marine life in the spring.
Matthew weighed a paltry 591 pounds when a team with the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRRP) pulled him from the canal and transported him to SeaWorld Orlando for rehabilitation. The rescue marked the second time the manatee had been saved from probable starvation. You can read the story of his recent rescue here.
MRRP team member Amanda Mathieu, research assistant with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, described Blue Spring as “a more stable habitat” for Matthew. The spring is a designated manatee refuge.
“It has abundant freshwater vegetation compared to where he was rescued in the Indian River, where seagrass is currently lacking. He also will have no need to seek out fresh water for drinking since he is already in it,” she said.
A GPS tag on Mathew will track his movements so researchers can monitor how he’s adapting to his new habitat and keep an eye on his feeding habitats and body conditions.
“Once we feel comfortable with his progress, his gear will be removed,” said Mathieu. “If he has any issues, we will be able to intervene and help him.”
OUC grants manatee preservation groups access to the Indian River Lagoon from a secured boat ramp on an intake canal near the Indian River Plant. In December, a research team used the site for four days to capture, evaluate, tag and release manatees.