Meet a Manatee: Ginger
A southwest Florida homebody

A photo of Ginger at the Lee County Manatee Park in Ft. Myers, Florida, one of her favorite hangouts in the winter.

Ginger is what you would call a homebody. She is a southwest Florida regular and has been seen there each year since she was first identified in 1994. One of her favorite spots seems to be the Lee County Manatee Park in Ft. Myers, Florida.

Just like humans, some manatees are predisposed to traveling, while others like to hang out within a certain geographic area. Ginger falls into the latter category. Besides spending time in the winter at the Lee County Manatee Park, which is also the warm water discharge canal for Florida Power & Light Company’s (FPL) plant in Ft. Myers, she has also been sighted at the FPL plant in Tice. In addition, Ginger is known for visiting the Marco Island area in Florida.

Ginger's exclamation point-shaped scar
An earlier photo of Ginger shows the distinctive scar shaped like an exclamation mark, which helps researchers identify her.

Ginger is favorite with Manatee Park staff and volunteers. Manatees are identified by their scar patterns, and Ginger is tracked by researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in St. Petersburg and Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. They track Ginger and other manatees by taking photographs and observing them when they are gathered at warm water refuges in the winter and at various areas they frequent in the summer.

Ginger has a big scar that looks like an exclamation point, and that makes her easy to recognize. This type of scar is called a “skeg” mark, and it is an injury that is caused by a part of the boat motor that extends below the propeller. When the skeg comes in contact with the manatee, it causes a long, longitudinal cut.

One year, Ginger wore a satellite tracking device or “tag” that fit around the base of her tail. That meant researchers were able to access her location daily by computer. Because she wore the tag, we know that Ginger travels in the Caloosahatchee and Orange Rivers, and she has also visited Helen Key and Cape Romano in Florida.

Ginger has many scars from encounters with boats, but she is a survivor. The researchers who track Ginger report that she has been seen with several calves over the years. Successfully reproducing females like Ginger are important keys to the recovery of the species.

Click here to adopt Ginger or other manatees in our Adopt-A-Manatee® program. It's a great holiday gift idea. For just $25, you'll get a photo, biography, and newsletter. If you adopt for $35 or more, you'll get a free manatee wall calendar and a membership gift.


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