Friendly giants of The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature—precious and plump Iclyn and Janus—slowly loll about in their lushly green cypress spring habitat—befriending freshwater turtles with a touch of a whisker and through-the-glass visitors with a wave of a flipper. The wilder the better when it comes to these marine mammals. The Bishop, a founding member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 2001, is spearheading a renovated initiative to rehabilitate manatees suffering in the waters of Sarasota. Both Iclyn and Janus were rescued by ZooTampa. Iclyn was found in Whitaker Bayou this January with cold stress syndrome—a condition similar to human frostbite. Janus was found unhealthily small at 295 pounds, compared to more than 420 pounds today, trapped in the Phillippi Creek canal after being separated from her mother.

Photography by Wes Roberts


After the rescue and critical care of these cold-intolerant mammals, Iclyn and Janus were transferred to The Bishop for second-stage rehabilitation. Spending time in the Museum’s Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat allows manatees time to finish the recovery process, grow and prepare for their return to the wild. Janus and Iclyn are deserving of a little R&R after cold shock and confinement, and The Bishop offers just that, with a wildlife transitional habitat for animals to gain weight and exposure to natural diet and feeding strategies. The museum teaches the manatees to interact with rough sea surfaces, changes in depth, wild plants and other marine animal species. “Having more animals in the habitat makes manatees more comfortable,” says Animal Care Director Virginia Edmonds. “Janus will swim over and touch the turtles with her mouth, just to check them out. Manatees are sensory with their whiskers, so this interaction between species is beneficial.” 

Meanwhile, another manatee—injured by a boat strike and suffering from cold stress, originally rescued in January—recently arrived at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature’s Stage 2 rehabilitation facility last month. Nicknamed Aria, the young manatee, estimated to be about 1 1/2 years old, joined Janus and Iclyn as the third manatee tenet. Visitors will now be able to find the three sea cows, swimming among two freshwater turtle companions, who further immerse them in a truly stimulating spring setting.

The Bishop is also unveiling a new monthly support program for manatees: Bishop Foster Friends. Donations made through Bishop Foster Friends will be matched by Florida Power & Light Company’s charitable arm, the NextEra Energy Foundation. FPL will match up to $20,000 of donations made to Bishop Foster Friends. Monthly donations will provide guaranteed support for manatees, one of Florida’s most beloved, and threatened, species.