Una spent three years of her life tangled in fishing line and has the scars to prove it. This is her story.
Ocean plastic poses a serious hazard to wildlife. Manatees are commonly entangled in monofilament fishing line as they graze and explore their environment, which can lead to infections or be fatal. After reading Una’s story, we knew she was the manatee for us. This is her story.
December 2003: Una was rescued as an orphan from the Ortega River near Jacksonville, Florida; she wouldn’t have been able to survive without her mom.
February 2006: Grown and healthy, Una was released into Blue Spring State Park, a common warm-water refuge for manatees during cold winter months.
November 2013: Una was spotted in the park with fishing line tangled on her right flipper, but a capture attempt was unsuccessful.
January 2014: Una returned to Blue Spring park and her entanglement was worse; she had a calf and was nursing an additional yearling; a rescue was contemplated despite the nursing calf, but Una left the park before it could get underway.
December 2015: Una came back to Blue Spring entangled in even more fishing line, which was holding her flippers together, almost like handcuffs and a capture attempt was planned.
January 2016: The line connecting Una’s flippers was cut by a researcher at the park, but there was still line wrapped around each flipper. The planned rescue was postponed when researchers discovered Una was pregnant because they didn’t want to endanger the baby.
November 2016: Una returned to the park with her calf and the fishing line embedded deeply in her flesh; she was finally captured and transported to SeaWorld Orlando to have the line removed.
December 2017: After recovering from her entanglement and subsequent internal issues that required her to be tube-fed, Una was finally cleared for release and returned to Blue Spring State Park where she thrives.
October 2018: 4ocean adopted Una from Save The Manatee®Club and, while she is fully healed, she will bear the scars of her entanglement forever...a stark reminder of the impact of plastic and other man-made dangers in the ocean. If you happen to visit Blue Spring State Park in the winter, see if you can identify our beautiful girl enjoying the warm waters of her new home.
Properly disposing of trash, recyclables, and fishing line can prevent manatees and other wildlife from ingesting or becoming entangled in it. While Una’s story has a happy ending, not all entangled animals survive. You can help make the ocean a safer place for animals like Una.
The ocean plastic crisis may seem like a relatively recent phenomenon with how much attention it's received over the last decade. However, this situation extends decades beyond modern-day — and the inception of plastic itself stretches even further. Understanding the history of ocean plastic pollution gives us a glimpse into how this material became so pervasive and how we might learn from past behaviors.