An orphaned infant manatee was rescued Saturday by marine mammal rescue volunteers in oceanside waters off Islamorada.

The lone calf was spotted beneath underwater rocks along a dock at a private residence, whose occupants reported the manatee sighting to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

Staff from Dolphin Research Center (DRC)’s Manatee Rescue Team and volunteers with Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder unit assisted to corral the calf with netting, allowing the rescuers to successfully scoop it from the water using a large hoop net. 

The calf may have been without its mother for several days, an unusual amount of time for the pair to be separated, according to a DRC spokesperson. She did not know why the calf separated from her mom.

After the successful rescue, the FWC transported the calf to Miami Seaquarium for treatment and rehabilitation. A Seaquarium veterinarian advised early Sunday afternoon that the manatee was in “guarded condition.”

The small female is less than four feet long, considered underweight at 65.5 pounds and has been diagnosed with a bacterial infection. After initial evaluation and treatment, she was placed in a pool with an older orphaned female manatee and is reported to be sticking close to the older orphan’s side.

In this Saturday, May 2, 2020, photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Hillary Cassel, left, of the Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Rescue Team, Adam Keaton, center, of Dolphin Research Center and Blake Faucett, right, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission examine an orphaned infant manatee in Islamorada, Fla. The female calf, who separated from her mother recently, was rescued Saturday and transported for treatment to the Miami Seaquarium. On Sunday, a Seaquarium veterinarian listed the baby’s condition as “guarded.” Marine mammal experts do not know why the infant and her mother separated. Although COVID-19 has the Florida Keys closed to visitors, local environmental organizations continue their work. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Mary Stella/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

While the Florida Keys remain closed to visitors during the coronavirus crisis, the area’s many nature and wildlife rehabilitation centers continue caring for rescued wildlife and helping animals in need. 

Last month, an entangled dolphin was rescued and freed near Layton and a pregnant, entangled manatee was rescued near Plantation Key. The Turtle Hospital in Marathon continues to rescue, rehabilitate and free sea turtles found around the Keys. Right whales were also recently spotted off the coast in Marathon in dangerously shallow waters, and the public was urged to help report sightings. They’ve recently made it safely to North Carolina.

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