Wildlife Workers Return Rehabilitated Manatee to Florida Lagoon

A manatee with a mysterious “buoyancy issue” was rehabilitated for months and released back into the wild in Port St John, Florida, on Thursday, December 12.

The adult male manatee, named Southprong after the location where he was discovered, was spotted “floating high” in the St John River back in July, according to a Brevard Zoo press release. The manatee was sent to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for rehabilitation, where staffers realized they could not identify the cause of Southprong’s extreme buoyancy.

Southprong’s journey continued when he was later moved to Miami Seaquarium to complete rehab. On Thursday, Southprong made the four-hour journey from Miami to Port St John via truck to be released back into the wild.

Southprong was loaded onto a stretcher device that volunteers could grab onto to transport the manatee from the truck to the water; the mammals can weigh between 800 and 1,200 pounds each, the zoo said.

This video, shared by the Brevard Zoo, shows a crew of 13 volunteers carrying the manatee down a boat ramp and releasing it into the lagoon in Port St John.

Workers with Brevard Zoo, Miami Seaquarium, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission came together to help Southprong return home. Credit: Brevard Zoo via Storyful