Dozens of people gathered around a boat ramp at Cove Cay Golf Club Wednesday morning to watch the release of a manatee and her calf.
Mike Jeffries, an employee at the complex’s small marina, on Aug. 26 spotted the 860-pound female manatee tangled in a crab trap line along with her calf, a 335-pound male. Rescuers named the mother Creedence and her calf Rev.
“I look out there one day and see the crab basket floating, wrapped around the manatee,” Jeffries said.
Jeffries called state wildlife officials, and it took rescuers two days to find the animals. If the line had remained wrapped around the mother much longer, she likely would have been in worse shape.
“Had she gone longer carrying that trap around, she could have lost her flipper, so the folks spotting her and being able to get that information in was a great thing,” said Virginia Edmonds, an animal care manager at Lowry Park Zoo, home to the David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Hospital, where the manatees spent almost two months. Rev was healthy. But at about 1 year old, rescuers deemed him too young to remain in the wild on his own.
“We don’t like to make that separation, especially if it’s a dependent calf, so we decided to collect them both and bring them both in,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Andy Garrett.
Creedence received antibiotics and care for her wounds. Edmonds attributes her quick recovery to a hearty appetite.
For the crowd gathered to watch the manatees swim off into the calm waters of the marina, it was a rare, wonderful sight.
“It was just so fun to see them go into the water, come up, and to see the mother flip her tail up as she swam away. Beautiful,” said Ken Wittic, who lives in a nearby condominium and is a member of the marina.
The golf club and condominums stretch east from U.S. 19 to Old Tampa Bay. The marina’s short channel connects to Allen’s Creek, which flows into the bay.
Lowry Park Zoo staff named the pair of manatees in homage to the classic rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival — because of the name of the city close to where they were found. It is unclear whether Rev was, as the song goes, born on the bayou skirting the marina.
“Maybe,” Edmonds laughed.