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News : New Providence Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Atlantis successfully releases two manatees
By Eric Hall, Kerzner International
Apr 27, 2012 - 12:49:55 PM

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Released after six months in the care of the Caribbean’s only Rescue and Rehabilitation Center

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Atlantis, Paradise Island's Animal Rescue team has successfully released two manatees in the Great Harbour Cay area of The Bahamas, marking Atlantis’ first-ever live release of its kind.  Rita and Georgie, a mother and calf, have been in the care of Atlantis' Dolphin Cay team since October 2011, where the manatees received health assessments and expert nutritional care.  Atlantis has partnered with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization (BMMRO), The Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Network and members of the Department of Marine Resources to help plan today’s release.   These organizations will assist with monitoring both manatees via satellite tags donated by BMMRO and USGS.  The Save the Manatee Club and Department of Marine Resources have donated signage to help increase awareness on waters surrounding the release area.

Great Harbour Cay, an area frequented by manatees, was chosen as the best release site for Georgie and Rita.  “Our hope is that when releasing Rita and Georgie into an area with other manatees, they can assimilate into stable resident groups,” says Teri Corbett, Vice President of Marine Mammal Operations. “Manatees are not common in The Bahamas but over the past several years, sightings have increased in Bahamian waters.  These marine mammals are potentially changing their migratory patterns from native habitats in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, which has led to increased awareness of manatees in The Bahamas.” As a result, Atlantis partnered with the BMMRO and assisted with public outreach and education of local residents about manatees.


The satellite tag information gathered will give the team better insight into the types of habitats manatees frequent, which will help conservation decisions for the species.  The data will elaborate on Rita’s prior movements documented below:

·  In 1988, Rita was first documented by photographs in the South Florida area

·  In 2009, she was seen in Spanish Wells on the island of Eleuthera

·  In Summer 2010, Rita gave birth to Georgie, a female, in the Spanish Wells.  By the request of The Government of The Bahamas, Atlantis staff and veterinarians periodically visited Spanish Wells to evaluate the status of Rita and Georgie.

·  In October 2011, Rita and Georgie appeared in the bustling Nassau Harbor.  At the request of The Government of The Bahamas, the Atlantis Rescue team transferred the animals out of danger and into the Atlantis Rescue and Rehabilitation facility with a plan to rehabilitate them and then to relocate them to a more suitable home.

"This entire process would not have been possible without the help and assistance of many people in The Bahamas," says Corbett. "We would like to thank all involved, including the many volunteers who donated their time and, most importantly, helped raise local awareness of these incredible animals".

Atlantis was awarded accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in March 2007 and re-accreditation in March 2012 and is also an accredited member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA).   Atlantis is home of the world’s largest open-air marine habitat with 50,000 marine animals, and a state-of-the-art rescue and rehabilitation center.  The resort is recognized for the highest standards in animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety. 

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