Meet A Manatee: Bama

She migrates between Alabama in the summer and Florida in the winter

Date: August 27, 2021

Bama the manatee
Bama was the first manatee ever captured and tagged in Alabama waters by Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Manatee Sighting Network.

This timid female manatee made history on September 4, 2009, when she became the first manatee ever captured and tagged in Alabama waters by Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Manatee Sighting Network (MSN). Previously unnamed, she was affectionately dubbed “Bama” and quickly became a local attraction in Mobile Bay.

Bama’s key identifying feature is a scar on the left side of her back, near the middle of her body, which was caused by a boat propeller. When she was captured and tagged in 2009, Bama was nine feet long and weighed approximately 1,020 pounds. Based on satellite tag and photo identification data, we know Bama has migrated between Alabama and warm water refuge sites in Florida. Bama has summered in Mobile Bay and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in Alabama and wintered at warm water springs in Crystal River, Florida. During these seasonal migrations, one of Bama’s favorite stopovers was Apalachicola Bay in the Florida Panhandle, where she often stayed for several months. In 2012, she was spotted at Wakulla Springs State Park in the Florida Panhandle. Most recently, Bama was sighted in the Dog River, a tributary of Mobile Bay, Alabama, where she was part of summer mating herds

Manatees are primarily concentrated in peninsular Florida in the winter, usually November through March. But in the summer months, they are much more widely distributed, and sightings in the northern Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast states are relatively common. It was in 2007 that Dauphin Island Sea Lab started their Manatee Sighting Network to track manatees in Mobile Bay and the surrounding waters of Alabama and Mississippi. The MSN team continues to monitor manatee migrations and habitat use in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Bama the manatee
Bama (at left) was spotted at Wakulla Springs State Park in the Florida Panhandle in 2012.

Bama is available for adoption, and each person who adopts her will receive a full-color photo, biography, and adoption certificate, as well as a membership handbook and subscription to The Manatee Zone, a newsletter featuring updates on the adopted manatees when they are sighted, and Paddle Tales, Save the Manatee Club’s bi-monthly eNewsletter. For more information go to Save the Manatee Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee page or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

A portion of proceeds from adoptions of Bama are used to help fund MSN’s awareness and outreach efforts. MSN promotes manatee education by distributing Save the Manatee Club’s public awareness waterway signs and boat decals in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. To learn more about MSN’s manatee research and outreach efforts, visit manatee.disl.org.