Two New Manatees Added to Adoption Program
Date: August 1, 2019
By Cora Berchem, Manatee Research & Multimedia Specialist,
and Nancy Sadusky, Director of Online Communications,
Save the Manatee Club
In July, Save the Manatee Club (SMC) added two new manatees to the Adopt-A-Manatee program. The most recent adoptees are named Millie and Illusion and both manatees have been known to travel the east coast of Florida.
Millie is a real traveler. She has a long sighting history that illustrates how manatees use different habitat and various warm water winter refuges over time. Her first sighting was in Brevard County, Florida in February 1980. Since that time, she has been tracked by researchers up and down the east coast of Florida. In November 1991, Millie visited Blue Spring State Park, on the upper St. Johns River, which is quite a distance from her other east coast stops. At present, Millie has been sighted nearly every winter at the Port Everglades power plant in Ft. Lauderdale, the Cape Canaveral Power and Light power plant in Brevard County, or at Blue Spring and other springs in the upper St John’s River region. She has also had a few summer sightings in the Silver River, which is located near Ocala, Florida.
Millie is a very large manatee and can easily be identified by an hour-glass-shaped scar on her head and by her forked tail – the result of a strike from a motorboat collision. Over the years, she has had nine known calves. Her daughter, Michelle, has had six known calves, which makes Millie a grandmother!
Illusion was rescued by the FWC in 2010 after being struck by a motorboat near Riviera Beach on Florida’s east coast. She had a deep propeller wound on her back and left side and was immediately taken to Miami Seaquarium, a critical care manatee rehabilitation facility and member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), for treatment. She had severe damage to her spine and ribs and lost one complete rib on the left side. The lacerations on her back were deeply penetrating and disfigured her body. She was given the name “Illusion” because at one point the Seaquarium staff could literally see through her body to the other side of the pool. It was so surreal that they likened it to a magician’s illusion.
Illusion spent time in rehabilitation at the Miami Seaquarium and also at the Cincinnati Zoo, another manatee rehabilitation center and member of the MRP. She was released in Florida in 2011. Since her release, Illusion has been regularly seen at the FPL Riviera Beach power plant during the winter months. She has also been spotted in Brevard and St. Lucie Counties. In the 2017-18 winter season, she even ventured down to the Florida Keys! Sadly, in 2018, Illusion obtained new scars on her back after being hit by a boat again.
Millie and Illusion are ambassadors for all manatees, and when you adopt one of them, you are helping all manatees to survive. Each person who adopts Millie or Illusion will receive a full-color photo, biography, and adoption certificate, as well as a membership handbook and subscription to The Manatee Zone, a newsletter featuring updates on the adopted manatees when they are sighted, and Paddle Tales, SMC’s bi-monthly e-newsletter. For more information about adopting Millie or Illusion, go to Save the Manatee Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee page, or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).