November is Manatee Awareness Month. On behalf of all manatees, the Dolphin Research Center would like everyone in the Florida Keys to be aware of these gentle animals every day. We are the licensed manatee rescue team for Monroe County. Every year we see manatees severely injured because they’ve been hit by boats, become entangled in fishing line or other debris, or accidentally ingested fishing tackle.

Humans create these dangers and it’s up to all of us to be the solution.

Recently, the Dolphin Research Center team and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservtion Commission were called to rescue orphaned manatee babies. They were the twins of Bonnie, one of the most well-known manatees in the area. We first assisted Bonnie more than 20 years ago when her pectoral flipper was severely entangled in discarded fishing line. Over the years, she needed help several times – including at one point the partial amputation of a flipper and a lengthy rehabilitation at the Miami Seaquarium.

It was vitally important that she receive all this aide so that she could continue to live her life, producing and raising multiple offspring to help bolster the population of this endangered species. By all accounts, she was a terrific mom. After her death, officials discovered that one flipper was so entangled and the mammary gland beneath it infected so that her babies could not nurse from that side. Even with only being able to nurse from a single teat, she was raising two robust calves.

Bonnie’s life came to an unnecessary, early end when she was hit by a boat. Too often, boaters are in such a rush that they ignore posted manatee speed zones and strike these gentle giants before they can get out of the way. She was the ninth manatee fatality in

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