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Manatee rescued from Texas City industrial canal diagnosed with acute cold stress syndrome

The male manatee is receiving treatment at SeaWorld San Antonio and will be returned to the wild in Florida when he gets better.

HOUSTON — A sick male manatee is getting much-needed medical treatment after it was rescued from an industrial canal in Texas City earlier this month, according to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

The nonprofit organization as well as SeaWorld rescue teams removed the manatee from the canal on Dec. 3. The mammal was taken to SeaWorld San Antonio for rehabilitation.

Before jumping into action, rescuers were able to get the animal's health condition and decided it needed immediate medical intervention, TMMSN Executive Director Heidi Whitehead said.

"It was an amazing evening to see all the people that came out from many different organizations to be able to make this happen. And to be able to pull together for this threatened species," Whitehead said Friday night.

She explained manatees are rarely seen in Galveston Bay, but sightings occasionally happen, especially in the summer months. It can be dangerous for manatees in the winter when the water is cold.

"If they haven't left by these winter months, and the temperature is dropping in the water then they become cold stressed," Whitehead said.

The manatee weighs about 810 pounds and is 284 centimeters long. Rescuers said it is underweight and suffering from acute cold stress syndrome due to lack of suitable habitat conditions. They said cold stress happens as winter approaches and temperatures drop.

"For warm-blooded manatees, cold stress typically causes bleaching of their skin, visible abscesses, unresolved sores, a heavy barnacle or algae load, lethargic behaviors, and loss of weight. Manatees are most susceptible to cold stress if they cannot find sufficient warm water sources during periods of colder weather," TMMSN explained.

When the manatee recovers, he will be released back into the wild in Florida, from which he's believed to have originated.

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