MYSTIC -- A pregnant manatee being rehabilitated at Mystic Aquarium will be transported to Groton-New London Airport Tuesday morning and then flown by a Coast Guard plane to Orlando, Fla.
Once there the 800-pound manatee will be trucked to Sea World where it will stay until it is ready to be released into the wild.
The manatee was rescued by the International Fund for Animal Welfare Sept. 22 in Falmouth, Mass. The group had been tracking the manatee and when water temperature dipped below the survivable level of 68 degrees, the group received an emergency permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to rescue and transport the manatee to the aquarium. The aquarium has been caring for the manatee since then.
Tuesday's transport is a joint effort between the aquarium, Sea World, the IFAW, the Coast Guard and the National Guard.
According to aquarium stranding coordinator Janelle Schuh, about 6 a.m. an ultrasound will be done on the manatee and her unborn calf while she is in the pool. She will then be placed in a stretcher. A crane will lift the stretcher onto a cart which will be wheeled to a waiting IFAW trailer. Blood will be drawn and the manatee will be driven to the airport where a National Guard forklift will place it on a HC-144 aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod.
While the manatee does not need to be in water during the flight, its skin will be kept moist.