MMSC is pleased to report that Ilya, the manatee rescued from Linden, NJ and transported to the Miami Seaquarium was released to his ocean home on December 15!
Friday, December 25, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center responded and removed the Seal with the help of team members and took the Seal to the center in Brigantine for observation. More info and status to follow...
Monday, November 23, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
"He had been in the Harbor for two weeks and the temperature was dipping into the 50s, meaning he might have had just days to live if he didn't stay warm in the ConocoPhillips outflow, where water was 75 degrees. Workers at the plant told U.S. Fish and Wildlife's manatee rescue program when he resurfaced, and they brought in a massive multi-agency rescue that included the Point Pleasant Dive and Rescue Team, who wrestled with the net underwater."
Sunday, November 01, 2009
On Tuesday, October 26, 2009, the Dive Team received a unique request for services, at least in New Jersey. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center, headquartered in Brigantine, NJ, needed dry suit divers to assist in the safe capture of a wayward manatee. This specimen, named Ilya, is suspected to be the same one that has been traveling from Florida up the Eastern seaboard in the summers for almost a decade. However, the local waters have dropped below 60 degrees F, so MMSC feared that he would soon succumb to hypothermia. He had been spotted intermittently the last two weeks around Staten Island and Essex and Hudson Counties.
Last weekend, he moved into a tidal creek by the Conoco Phillips oil refinery in Linden, probably because of a warm water outfall pipe from the facility. We met with the staff of the MMSC, got checked through Security, and were escorted into the refinery property. Conoco Phillips dedicated numerous resources to the efforts for the day, including a staging tent, food, drinks, safety and rescue crews, two boats, and a crane. Everyone involved had a safety briefing and the capture plan was outlined. A representative from Florida Fish & Wildlife and veterinarian from the Miami Seaquarium had traveled up to provide their extensive expertise with manatee capture and subsequent care.
It didn’t take too long to locate Ilya in the creek, as the refinery staff had been feeding him the last few days. Although the creek was warm, there is little in it in the way of acceptable food for a manatee, so he approached us readily to accept lettuce. However, once he was lured down the creek and a long net was deployed by boat in a large circular corral around him, he dove. Two divers were in the creek to keep freeing the net from underwater snags, but the manatee managed to find his way out. He wasn’t so stressed by the experience that he didn’t just go back to eating lettuce between our attempts.
The plan was reevaluated and the decision was made to move the capture site down the creek past another bridge in hopes that a smoother bottom would allow for a better deployment of the net and prevent another escape. Our divers formed a surface line and splashed our way downstream to chase the manatee towards the new net location. The plan worked this time, as we could see him testing the net but not find a way out under the bottom. Under the direction of the experts, we helped draw the net in and “bag it up”, this time with a manatee still in it.
Almost 20 people were needed to haul the animal on shore and restrain it on its stomach (a manatee’s tail slap is incredibly powerful if it can roll onto its back). The veterinarian administered a sedative to enable a safer transfer of the animal onto a stretcher and cargo netting, at which point the crane moved it over to a pad by the staging area for proper medical evaluation. It was then loaded in the MMSC truck, and we followed their staff to the Brigantine facility to assist with one more manual lift of the manatee into a heated rehab pool. After a few slow laps, Ilya went right back to eating lettuce (a healthy manatee normally eats 100 pounds of vegetation every day).
He would stay in the care of the Brigantine facility for two days until he could be flown back to Florida on a Coast Guard C-130. Once there, the Miami Seaquarium will evaluate his health and consider release options.
This successful rescue could not have happened without dozens of volunteers and donated resources. Many thanks go to the MMSC for inviting us to participate in this unique experience.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
On Sunday, Sept. 20 the Dive Team covered the Tube Race. The race is sponsored by the local Lions club, as a fund raising event. The contestants race in inner tubes. Some people never get through the waves, some just get too tired to continue. That is where the Dive Team comes in. We had Rescue 34 set the buoys for the race, and assist any people who can not make it to the end. We had a few assists, but everyone had a good time and there where no injuries. Dave Margintino gets an award for the most patience. He helped the same young boy get in his tube 15 times.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Friday, July 03, 2009
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center sent the team an update regarding the seal that was recovered back in April on the beach near Brick and thus was named "Brick".
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
We anchored in close to the engine (which stands about 25 feet up off the bottom), with Bill first tying us in to the propeller shaft. He sent a lift bag to the surface, signaling to us on the boat that the anchor was secured and it was safe to dive. The boat crew set up a granny line to the anchor line to facilitate everyone’s safe descent, due to the strong surface current. Divers were assigned to buddy teams, and each team was assigned to locate the propeller shaft, swim down its length to the actual propeller, and return with a loaded sinker tube. This would then be brought to the surface in a controlled fashion with the aid of a lift bag. Flo & Tom C., Eric & Sue, and Chet & Tom T. (who was on his first deep boat dive) all encountered 2-3 foot surface chop, a mild temperature drop at 35 feet, and 10-15 foot of visibility on the bottom. All assigned tasks were accomplished, plus the unexpected recovery of a 20-lb. Danforth anchor with chain and 100’ of attached line.
Sue’s dive computer decided to freeze during her safety stop, but she had tracked and logged the first dive with a separate bottom timer and depth gauge, and so was able to plan the next one on the Recreational Dive Planner. (Remember when your Instructor said in Open Water that you’d need to be able to find a Missing Surface Interval on the dive tables? Well, we did today.)
The weather topside was in the 80s with a nice breeze, but this made the surface a little lumpy, and although Bill’s burgers smelled awesome, Eric did a little chumming with his. The second dive was a little more turbid and a lot darker. We still all had a nice dive and collected a bit more lead around the engine and boilers. These 6-10 oz. sinkers are popular items at our fundraiser sinker sale in the winter with the very same fishermen who lost them. Along the way, we met up with lots of blackfish, sea bass, ling, and at least one lobster that was poking around. With the initial mystery of the deep out of the way from the first dive, Tom T’s air consumption was much improved on dive #2.
Once back on land, even after we cleaned the boat, and washed and stowed the gear, the day was not over. Due to the fact that we finally had a weekend of nice weather after several rain-outs, the town and boardwalk were mobbed, and, as expected, a string of first calls followed. Dive team members jumped in to assist the First Aid Squad on numerous calls as EMTs, Ambulance Drivers, and First Responders. Welcome to summer in Point Pleasant Beach!
Friday, June 12, 2009
This past Sunday, June 7, 2009, the Dive Team was once again invited to Jenkinson’s Aquarium to participate in its celebration of World Oceans Day. The history of this international event can be found at http://www.theoceanproject.org/wod/wod_about.php .
Throughout the day, visitors to our display viewed marine “biofacts” (a.k.a. seashells) collected from our local waters, recovered artifacts, and videos of some of our underwater adventures and training dives. “SCUBA Steve” was also a popular photo op, suited up in his winter drysuit and full face mask, despite the fact that there wasn’t actually a person inside!
Our headline presentations, though, were SCUBA diving demonstrations in the harbor seal tank. Three times during the day, a buddy team of our divers were allowed to enter the exhibit and, with the help of a tender, enter gently to show basic diving equipment and skills. The water temp in the tank was almost 70 degrees F (about 20 degrees warmer than anything we’ve been in since last year!), so everyone was quite comfortable to be back in wetsuits. One team member was outside the tank with visitors to explain the equipment, prompt the divers to perform different skills, and answer questions from the audience. The seals, still in THEIR tank during all of this, were a little frisky on occasion, coming right up to touch a diver’s head or swim around the bubble trails.
Being in an aquarium tank really is a unique experience. Even though it was our divers on exhibit, visitors outside the tank were very happy to pose for pictures and video taken from the inside. How often does an exhibit ask to take YOUR picture?
Monday, May 18, 2009
Footage of the Alex Mac wrecksite that the team responded to and assisted in victim removal back on July 2006...
The team did go back to the wreck and took photos as shown here in this post.
The above video footage was taken from You-Tube and not recorded by the team....
Monday, May 11, 2009