MIAMI (CBSMiami) -Although manatee season has ended, wildlife officials are still rescuing sea cows when needed – and a special donation from Florida Power & Light will help support the cause.
Wednesday, manatee rescue officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rolled out a new transport truck at FPL's manatee lagoon.
It will transport manatees to and from rescue, rehabilitation, and release sites.
It also serves as a rolling toolbox with equipment to keep manatees safe and comfortable while on the road.
"Right now, manatees are still facing a lot of challenges, so we at FPL are trying to do everything we can to help support them. So this new transport truck will travel around the state to help meet the needs of these animals," said Manatee Lagoon Conservation Liaison & Educator Rachel Shanker.
The manatee graphic wraps on the truck were donated by the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida and Ferman Automotive Group.
The designs were created to be eye-catching, to hopefully inspire people to help manatees.
So far this year, Florida officials have confirmed 479 manatee deaths, compared with more than 600 last year at this same time. Both are well above the five-year average of 287 manatee deaths in the time period.
There are only an estimated 7,520 of the animals in the wild today, according to the state wildlife commission.
Manatees are gentle round-tailed giants, sometimes known as sea cows, and weigh as much as 1,200 pounds and live as long as 65 years or so. Manatees are Florida's official state marine mammal and are closely related to elephants.
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