O’Neil Returns to the Wild

O'Neil the manatee
O’Neil weighed just 30 pounds when he was rescued. But he was a healthy 700 pounds on the day of his release.

Date: March 5, 2020

On February 28, 2020, thrilled park visitors gathered to watch as manatee O’Neil was released at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida. Save the Manatee Club staff assisted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with the release effort.

O’Neil was rescued as an orphan when he weighed just 30 pounds. He spent time at SeaWorld Orlando and The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton, Florida, and was just over 700 pounds when he was released. O’Neil was outfitted with a satellite tracking device to make sure he adapts well to life in the wild. He will be tracked by researchers at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute. All the participating agencies and organizations are partners in the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership and work cooperatively in manatee rescue, rehabilitation, release, and monitoring efforts.

Cora Berchem, Save the Manatee Club’s Director of Multimedia & Manatee Research Associate, reports that on Saturday, February 29th, O’Neil was observed milling with his new manatee friends in the lower part of the Blue Spring run. Good luck O’Neil!

O'Neil the manatee is fitted with a tagging device.
O’Neil is outfitted with a satellite tracking device before his release.
O'Neil the manatee is released at Blue Spring State Park.
O’Neil was released at Blue Spring State Park where he could join other manatees wintering at the warm-water refuge.