SeaWorld Orlando: Mommy Manatee and Daddy Sea Dragon

SeaWorld Orlando welcomed two new diverse additions within the last couple of weeks.

A manatee rescued last month gave birth to a healthy calf, which has been nursing and bonding with its mom. It’s under the watchful eyes of SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue team.

Mom was found at Sykes Creek in Merritt Island, Fla., where her flippers had been injured by fishing line. Based on her size, she was thought to be pregnant and that was confirmed by ultrasound. Her injures have been treated, including amputation of her right front flipper and her health has improved.

In a more usual birthing event, a weedy sea dragon gave birth to his new baby sea dragons, a first for SeaWorld. Only three other aquariums have successfully bred sea dragons.

In a reverse process, the female sea dragon deposits the eggs into a spongy patch on the underside of the male’s tail and fertilizes them. They remain with the dad for five to nine weeks; he is responsible for their incubation and care.

The 100 or so eggs laid by the female in June will continue to hatch over the next few weeks. Once hatched the babies receive nutrition from the remains of their yolk sac and from zooplankton in the water, and then dine on newly hatched brine shrimp. They take about a year to completely mature.

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