Make Way for Manatees – Manatee Sighting Network Update


DISL's Manatee Sighting Network's (MSN) tagged manatees have made their way to winter habitats in central Florida.  Tagged manatees Wilson, Aven, and Brodie were recently seen in Crystal River, but previously tagged manatees Zewie and Bama continue to be elusive.

Both Bama and Zewie routinely visit Wakulla Springs and Crystal River during winter months, and we are keeping eyes out for them.  This fall, DISL's MSN held its first Manatee Safe Viewing and Volunteer Training seminar. Data on the movements of tagged manatees were an important part of this training and are part of every presentation we give to educate the public on the presence of manatees in Alabama waters and how to safely observe these animals. Our efforts to engage the public helped MSN document a record breaking 300 manatee sightings in Alabama and nearby waters in 2013.

Although most sighted manatees successfully made their way to warm water refuges in Florida, an unusually high number of manatee sightings were reported in Alabama and Mississippi this winter, and MSN has responded to two cold-related manatee fatalities in the western Florida panhandle. Late season animals were sighted in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, Bayou La Batre, Magnolia River, and Little Lagoon. Thanks to public reports we were able to follow up on these sightings. We ask the public to continue to keep eyes out for these animals during winter months, when they are endangered by cold temperatures.

DISL/MSN staff (Noel Wingers, Elizabeth Hieb, and Dr. Ruth Carmichael) and students (Allen Aven and Kayla DaCosta) also assisted USGS Sirenia Project with winter health assessments of manatees in the Crystal River, FL area in December. During the two-day event, DISL personnel assisted with capture and monitoring of 14 manatees and received important training to enhance our local research efforts.

As the new year begins, we are preparing for another year of meaningful research to support manatee conservation and recovery in the northern Gulf of Mexico. If you are interested to make a contribution to this research or volunteer, please contact Elizabeth Hieb at 251-861-2141, x7547.  Please report any manatee sightings or strandings to 1-866-493-5803.  Visit manatee.disl.org for more information.

-Submitted by E. Hieb, R. Carmichael, DISL Manatee Sighting Network

Ocean Observing
DISL personnel E. Hieb, N. Wingers (left) and R. Carmichael (far right) assist with loading a captured manatee for a health assessment in Crystal River Florida (photo credit: Brandon Bassett, FWC) Bottom photo - DISL PhD student Kayla DaCosta practices removing and replacing a manatee tag in the clear waters of Crystal River, FL.




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