Help needed for Gulf manatees

By Lora Chance - email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could not have come at a worse time for manatees. Roughly, 10 percent of the entire manatee population died this past winter.

"We've lost lost about 600 manatees this year," said Patrick Rose, executive director of Save the Manatee Club. "About half of that is from the severe cold."

The concern now is oil. Exposure to oil is toxic and could cause significant injury or death to manatees.

Rose just recently returned from a trip to the Gulf.

"I spotted two manatees near Gulf Shores, Ala.," he said. "There are plans already in place and there are nets and stretchers and rescue equipment at various places throughout the coast where manatees could be picked up if they come in direct contact with the oil."

Rose said affected manatees would either be moved to a clean location or taken into rehabilitation.

Save the Manatee Club is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide necessary supplies and support for manatee rescue and recovery. For a list of ways you can help, visit

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.