Manatees are some of the most amazing marine species, but unfortunately they are greatly endangered by ship strikes, poaching and habitat degradation. These marine animals are large and move slowly, making them even more vulnerable to threats. Thankfully, there are many organizations working to help manatees.

Wildtracks, a Belize-based conservation organization, is one such group dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating marine species. When 19 year old, Mitchell Thomas traveled to Belize to volunteer with Wildtracks, he had the incredible experience of getting to help rehabilitate an orphaned manatee.

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Thomas explains on Imgur that they found the baby manatee struggling to float at the surface after his mother had been killed, presumably by a ship strike.

Rescuers were able to get the baby out of the water and wrapped in wet towels to keep his skin moist while they transported him to their rehab center.

The poor baby manatee had no strength in his body and needed 24 hour care.

Mitchell happily stepped in to aid in the manatee’s recovery. In honor of his dedication, the rescue team named the manatee, “Mitch.”

Scared and alone, Mitch refused to feed from a bottle, so he had to be tube fed.

With a little time and patience, he began to regain his strength.

There is no question that big Mitchell and little Mitch share an incredible bond. 

Once he gains a little more weight and strength, Mitch will be released back into the wild! Good luck little guy!

All image source: Imgur