Ilya the manatee returns home

Published December 17, 2009

We are happy to share that Ilya, the wayward manatee who made an amazing journey up the East Coast this past summer, has finally made it home safely to the warm waters of Florida. His journey was an incredible story of many organizations, across many states, coming together to help an animal who lost its way.

The first confirmed sighting of Ilya was in Havre de Grace, Maryland back in July by the National Aquarium's animal rescue team. The Aquarium and the Coast Guard kept tabs on the animal to ensure its safety and monitor its movements while in Maryland. Ilya continued to travel north and ended up in North Jersey. All along the way animal rescue groups, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and the Coast Guard were keeping a close watch on Ilya.

Manatees need to be in water temperatures of 68 degrees Fahrenheit to survive.  Most who wander north make it back safely on their own before water temperatures drop, but in Ilya's case, officials agreed that a human rescue effort would give him the best chance at surviving. In October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinated an effort to rescue and transport Ilya to the Miami SeaAquarium in Florida. The Miami SeaAquarium rehabilitated Ilya for a few months and released him back into the warm waters of the Miami coast on Wednesday.

For more on Ilya's rehab and release, check out this video.

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