Report Manatees Sighted Outside of Florida

For more information please contact:

For further information, contact:
Janice Nearing
Director of Public Relations
Phone: (407) 539-0990
E-mail: jnearing@savethemanatee.org

For Immediate Release: October 17, 2014

Note: A high resolution jpeg (300 dpi) of a manatee image is available upon request.

Fall is the time of year when any manatees who have been exploring destinations outside the Sunshine State must head back to important warm-water refuges. Water temperatures along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Seaboard become too cold for this endangered, subtropical species. Manatees that remain in water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit for prolonged periods of time are susceptible to the threat of cold stress. Northern residents and boaters are reminded to report any sightings of the slow-moving marine mammals to their local Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Phone numbers are conveniently posted at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/networks.htm.

David Schrichte manatee photo
Northern residents and boaters are reminded to report any sightings of manatees to their local Marine Mammal Stranding Network. (Photo © David R. Schrichte)

“2013 was a devastating year for manatees – 830 are known to have died from all causes, representing 17% of the species’ estimated minimum population,” says Dr. Katie Tripp, Director of Science and Conservation for Save the Manatee Club. “This is why everyone’s help is needed now more than ever.”

Dr. Tripp advises the public to be prepared to report the number of manatees observed, the physical location of the manatees with reference to any nearby landmarks, and a general description of the size and behavior of the manatee. Also, photos of the manatees, particularly clear photos of any scars or injuries, help biologists identify individual manatees. The public is also urged not to provide food or water to manatees, as this may prolong their stay when they should be on a constant journey home to Florida.

There are additional threats to manatees on their way back to Florida including boat strikes and other human activities. Boaters are reminded that many seasonal manatee zones in Florida come into effect in early November. “We urge the boating community to pay close attention to posted signage indicating slow or idle speeds,” says Dr. Tripp. “Also, waterway users should keep their distance from migrating manatees or manatees congregated at warm-water sites during the winter to avoid possible harassment.”

Ilya, one of the manatees in Save the Manatee Club’s adoption program, was made famous by his successful rescue from the cold waters of New Jersey in October 2009. The rescue was expertly coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Ilya was flown back to his home state aboard a

Coast Guard C-130 cargo aircraft. Once Ilya was back in Florida, he was transported to Miami Seaquarium and released after a short rehabilitation near Miami. He has recently been sighted in the Florida Keys.

As a supporting member of the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership, Save the Manatee Club added Ilya to its Adopt-A-Manatee® program in 2009. All proceeds from adoptions of Ilya go toward the rescue and rehabilitation of endangered manatees. Click the following link to adopt Ilya or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

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Dr. Tripp has been Save the Manatee Club’s Director of Science and Conservation since May of 2008. She received her Ph.D. in Veterinary Medical Sciences from the University of Florida, where she conducted research on manatee physiology.

Save the Manatee Club was established in 1981 by singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor, Bob Graham, to protect endangered manatees and their aquatic habitat for future generations. Today, it is the world’s leading manatee conservation organization. The Club is a membership-based, national nonprofit organization that promotes public awareness and education; sponsors local and international scientific research and rescue, rehabilitation, and release efforts; and advocates for the conservation of manatees and their essential habitat based on the best available scientific data. To find out more about manatees or the Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee® program, go to www.savethemanatee.org.


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