This manatee sure knows how to get around.
“Washburn,” the roughly 800-pound female manatee captured in Falmouth last month after spending weeks bobbing around off parts of Cape Cod, will be flown by plane Tuesday from the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut to Florida.
Crews from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, working with aquarium officials, are teaming up with the US Coast Guard to transport Washburn to SeaWorld Orlando, where she will continue her recovery until she is released into the wild in a few weeks.
The manatee will be traveling on a Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod HC-144 aircraft, according to officials from IFAW. She will leave from the Groton-New London Airport in Connecticut, and arrive at the Orlando International Airport in Florida. The flight will last roughly five hours.
The manatee will first be transported in IFAW’s rescue trailer to the airport. From there, she’ll be loaded into a specially designed, open-topped transportation crate. She’ll then be lifted into the plane via forklift.
The US Coast Guard has worked in the past with organizations like the New England Aquarium to transport loggerhead turtles by special aircraft down to Miami.
Washburn was plucked by crews from IFAW from the cooling Cape Cod waters on Sept. 22. She was found swimming near Washburn Island, which is how she got her name.
Manatees are not native to Massachusetts waters, and risk death when the water temperature drops below 68 degrees.
At first, it was believed that the manatee was a male. After further inspection at the aquarium, experts discovered that the marine mammal was, in fact, a female — and a very pregnant one at that.
“Knowing that she is carrying a calf makes her survival even more important,” said Katie Moore, director of IFAW’s animal rescue program, when the group discovered the manatee was expecting.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.