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Date of Issue: January 27, 2010

Dead manatee found in Sarasota Bay

A female manatee washed up in Sarasota Bay off Bradenton Beach Jan. 24. Devon Straight and Beth Weir of Wildlife, Inc. tied the manatee to a dock until staff with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission arrived. Islander Photo: Courtesy Gail Straight

A female manatee is removed from Sarasota Bay Jan. 25. Islander Photo: Courtesy Gail Straight

Warren Fienga has seen many marine creatures from the comfort of his dock near Canasta Drive in Bradenton Beach, but he’s never seen the sight he woke up to Jan. 24.

On Sunday morning, Fienga, as well as other Canasta Drive residents, discovered a dead Florida manatee floating in Sarasota Bay.

“ I walked out on my deck and I just saw that big old thing laying there,” Fienga said.

Fienga contacted a neighbor who works with Wildlife, Inc., in Bradenton Beach. Wildlife’s Devon Straight and Beth Weir tied the manatee to the dock until staff with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission could arrive for a necropsy.

“It’s sad. These creatures have enough problems. Now this,” Fienga said of the manatee, a native and endangered species protected by federal and state laws.

Early Jan. 25, a team arrived to remove the manatee from the water. Bradenton Beach Public Works, Wildlife, Inc., and FWC staff were involved in the effort. The manatee was hoisted from the bay to a truck.

“It was something trying to get her over the sand,” said Gail Straight of Wildlife, Inc. The manatee was about 10-feet long, weighed an estimated 1,500 pounds and about 30 years old.

“That’s about half their life span,” Straight said.

She said the manatee’s death was a result of the cold weather that lingered in the area for more than two weeks earlier this month.

“It’s the cold,” Straight said. Cold water can cause bleeding from the lungs in manatees, she said.

Thousands of sea turtles were rescued from Florida waters and officials reported one of the largest fish kills in recent history.

During the recent cold snap, FWC biologists reported the deaths of several manatees, as well as noted unusually large numbers of manatees gathered in the warm-water sites for extended periods of time.

Lisa Neff contributed to this report.