LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Sept. 6, 2012 – In ancient days, sailors may have mistaken manatees for mermaids, but many Epcot guests won’t be making that same mistake after visiting The Seas with Nemo and Friends during International Manatee Day on Sept. 7.
The one day event is designed to help dispel myths about these endangered marine mammals and offer ways to better protect them. Belonging to a group of aquatic, plant-eating mammals called sirenians, manatees can only be found in a few places, including Florida, South America, Africa, and Australia. With only 5,000 manatees located around the state, they are considered an endangered species in Florida.
As a designated rehabilitation site for rescued manatees and sea turtles, the Seas with Nemo and Friends serves as a “halfway house” working with the manatees after they are out of “intensive care” to ensure they resume a normal diet and are ready to return to the wild.
A team of marine mammal experts at The Seas is currently caring for two manatees — Lou and Vail. Both were injured during separate watercraft strikes and will remain in the facility until they are well enough to be returned to their habitats.
Simple actions can help protect them. For example, recycling used fishing line and plastic bottles will help keep waterways where manatees live, clean and healthy.