Q. Are there ways manatees are identified besides scar patterns? -- Debra Brown, Florida
A. Every manatee captured is microchipped. In manatee research, we call it PIT tagging. PIT stands for Passive Integrated Transponder and is used to identify individual manatees. It is similar to microchips used on cats and dogs that can help identify them if they get lost. Every chip has a unique ID number, and there is a database kept so that if a PIT-tag positive manatee is found, it can be identified via the database. One chip is inserted just under the skin over each shoulder blade. Likewise, every time a manatee is rescued or dies, it is scanned to check for a chip. The information recorded is used to track individual manatees and study behavior, distribution, and movement patterns.