Pair of manatees sent home after months of rehab

VIRGINIA KEY, FLA. (WSVN) - A pair of manatees have returned to the wild after recovering from injuries suffered in a boating accident.

Both Reya and Leia spent the last eight months in Virgina Key’s Miami Seaquarium. The manatees underwent rehabilitation that proved to be successful.

“Both of them suffered severe boat strikes,” said Miami Seaquarium’s Animal Care Supervisor Jessica Schiffhauer. “Reya was what we call a floater, so she had an air packet making it hard for her to navigate the water column.”

Leia, meanwhile, is what Schiffhauer called a “sinker” as a result of puss and broken ribs.

Back in March, both manatees were rescued and began their rehabilitation within days of one another. “Reya is about two years old and Leia is about a year and a half,” said Schiffhauer.

Both manatees have doubled in weight since their initial arrival to the Seaquarium, said Schiffhauer.

November is Manatee Awareness Month, and Miami Seaquarium has emphasized that the Florida manatee is endangered due in part to natural and man-made causes.

According to officials, boat strikes are what harm manatees the most. “Please, please be aware of the speed limit zones,” said Schiffhauer. “I know yesterday was a big day for us because they started the speed limit zones again.”

Schiffhauer added tips for spotting manatees while out on the water. “You can look for their noses coming up for breathing, and there’s also a very distinct circle you’ll see at the top of the water. You’ll see it from their tail.”

Reya headed back home to Stuart. Leia, meanwhile, made her way to Fort Pierce, where she was released back into the water.

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