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Manatee likely hit by boat prop still injured but doesn't give up pursuit of love

A young male manatee (left), recently hit by a boat, enjoys company in a Plantation Key canal. Despite the wound, he kept looking for a girlfriend while eluding would-be rescuers.
A young male manatee (left), recently hit by a boat, enjoys company in a Plantation Key canal. Despite the wound, he kept looking for a girlfriend while eluding would-be rescuers.

A young manatee's ability to elude would-be rescuers while looking for love in a Plantation Key canal last week indicates he's not letting a back wound slow him down.

"He seems to doing pretty well and the wound appears to be improving," said Mary Stella from the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key.

The DRC's Manatee Rescue Team launched boats and kayaks in efforts Thursday and Friday to corral the sub-adult male, estimated to be about 7 feet long.

"We made numerous attempts to bring him in, but we were not successful," Stella said. 

"He was able to dive pretty deep and stay down," she said. "That's a good sign because it means he can stay down to feed. A manatee that dives but bobs back to the surface could be in trouble."

Several residents along the bayside canal system at the Indian Waterways subdivision reported that the manatee apparently was struck by a boat propeller that opened a deep gash on his back.

Many manatees, which laze and sleep at the surface, are scarred by boat strikes.

While the wound itself does not appear to be life-threatening to the Plantation Key manatee, DRC medical staff and veterinarians concluded he should be captured for treatment to prevent infection.

The manatee, actively seeking female companionship during a busy mating season, had other ideas. Experts pointed to his ardent pursuit of females as proof of his gender.

"He was very active," Stella said, "and you don't want to pull an animal out of the water unless you really need to."

Residents of the neighborhood were asked to keep an eye out for the manatee, and call the state's hotline at (888) 404-FWCC (3922) if it appears he is showing distress.

DRC staff, authorized manatee rescuers, typically wait until an animal is taken into care before they name it.

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