Despite the efforts of residents, Flagler Beach fire fighters, Florida Fish and Wildlife, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, and Sea World, small male sea cow died.
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist, Nadia Gordon, a dead manatee was recovered from the beach in the northern part of Flagler County, 200 yards south of Washington Oaks Garden State Park, on Tuesday, Jan. 26. The official records did not reflect the first death at the time the article was written.
The cause of death of the first manatee is also considered to be due to cold stress. This makes the Saturday, Jan. 30 rescue, and subsequent death, the second manatee death in 2016 in Flagler County.
When a manatee washed up on the beach across from the Aliki towers midmorning, Saturday, Jan. 31, resident Vickie Clark knew exactly what to do.
“I have a magnet on my refrigerator with Florida Fish and Wildlife's phone number,” she said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens marine response teams transported the manatee to Sea World in Orlando. The manatee died shortly after he arrived at Sea World.
The mammal was a small manatee, only seven feet in length, typically manatees are nine to 10 feet and weigh about 1,000 pounds.
Nadia Gordon, FWCC marine mammal research biologist, said the mammal showed signs of cold stress syndrome. Manatees do best in water 68 degrees and higher. The ocean water temperature off Flagler Beach has been ranging between 57 and 61 degrees.
“He had the signs of cold water stress. His belly was flat, he was underweight, had a bleached face and a halo tail, where it is lighter around the tail,” Gordon said.
Gordon said it isn't unusual to find manatees in warmer water pockets in the ocean, but when they swim out these areas and into colder waters, their bodies shut down and they are unable to eat or process food.
The manatee was taken to the Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory, in St. Petersburg, Florida, for a necropsy on Monday.
Flagler Beach Fire and Rescue and the Flagler Beach Police department also responded.
“We were dispatched by the Flagler County Sheriff's office. FWCC requested we respond and provide them with information,” Flagler Beach firefighter, Alan Forehand said. “We help as much as we can. We're kind of a catch-all for stuff outside our area of expertise.”
Forehand said since there were no emergency calls, they were able to stay until the response teams arrived from Jacksonville. Had there been an emergency call elsewhere, they would have responded as usual.
Clark said she has lived at the Aliki for the past five years, and the view of the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway was a major reason they selected that spot.
“We have seen dolphins and whales, but this is the first manatee we have seen in the ocean,” she said.