Ilya left Atlantic City International Airport Thursday. Miami Seaquarium was the ultimate destination.
The sea cow was pulled from a creek at the ConocoPhillips oil refinery in Linden and had been recuperating at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine.
Federal wildlife authorities kept the rescue a secret, fearing a crush of media and well-wishers could stress the manatee.
Ilya needed to be rescued because New Jersey's waters are too cold for him to survive for long. He's been migrating as far north as Massachusetts for the past decade, but dithered too long in the Garden State this year.