Meet A Manatee: Flicker

She was named because the scars on her back look like a flickering candle

Updated: October 11, 2022

Flicker the manatee surfaces to breathe.
Flicker is recognizable by the scars on her back that look like a flickering candle. She was first identified in 1983 and has been documented in Tampa Bay and Ft. Myers, Florida.

Flicker is a female manatee and was first documented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in January 1983 as part of a photo-identification program. Unfortunately, she is recognizable by the scars on her back that look like a flickering candle and by mutilations along the edge of her tail. These scars were caused by boat strikes. Many manatees like Flicker bear permanent scars on their bodies and tails, which are often caused by watercraft.

Flicker also serves as a reminder that boats aren’t the only threat to manatees. Her tail became entangled in a crab trap line and buoy in 2001. She dragged this gear across Tampa Bay, where she became further entangled in another line and buoy as well as the mooring lines of a houseboat! In 2007, she unfortunately became tangled in a crab trap line and buoy in Southwest Florida once again. Thankfully, she was rescued, disentangled, and set free both times. Although these misadventures had happy endings, it underscores how susceptible manatees are to entanglement. Read more about why entanglement is a drag for manatees and other wildlife.

In addition to the entanglements around her tail, Flicker is also missing her right flipper. It is  unknown if this was due to an entanglement or other injury. Members of the public should always report manatees that appear injured or in distress by calling FWC at 1-888-404-3922.

Through the photo-identification project, researchers have learned quite a bit about Flicker and where she spends her winters. She was first photo-documented with hundreds of other manatees that swam up the Caloosahatchee River to the warm waters found at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) Tice power plant in Ft. Myers. However, since 1993, she has joined the manatees at Tampa Electric Company’s (TECO) Big Bend power plant in Apollo Beach. In addition to TECO, Flicker has traveled a short distance across Tampa Bay to Duke Energy’s Bartow power plant. The Bartow plant doesn’t operate all the time, and manatees cannot enter the warm-water canal itself. Instead, manatees gather on the shallow flats adjacent to the power plant. Save the Manatee Club was instrumental in ensuring that these flats received necessary protection so manatees like Flicker can rest there without fear of boat injuries.

Save the Manatee Club helps support the rescue and research programs that help manatees like Flicker, and is a founding member of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership. In addition, SMC works diligently to protect manatee winter habitat. At the TECO Manatee Viewing Center, visitors can tour the education center, walk the mangrove trail, or watch for manatees on the viewing platform. Stop by on a chilly winter day—you may see Flicker and a few of our other adoptees! Visit our Manatee Viewing page for more information.

You can adopt Flicker or other manatees!
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.
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For more information or to view other manatees available for adoption, visit the Adopt-A-Manatee page, or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).