If you are at all concerned that a manatee may be sick, injured, entangled, or orphaned, or if you see a manatee that is being harassed or wearing a “tag” or tracking device, please immediately report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) 24-hour Wildlife Alert Hotline by calling 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC).

What to do if you spot a sick or injured manatee

  • Immediately call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline. An FWC biologist will give you instructions on what to do next.
  • If possible, keep the manatee in your line of sight, but remember keep your distance. If the animal leaves the area, take note of the direction.
  • If possible, take a photo/video of the animal without disturbing the manatee.
Watch to learn how to determine if a manatee is in trouble

Signs that a manatee may be in distress

  • Floating high in the water, unable to swim down
  • Fresh, open wounds (pink/red)
  • Rapid breathing – breathing every minute or so
  • White lesions, emaciation (thin, visible ribs/skull), lethargic
  • Tidally stranded (do not attempt to push the manatee back into the water or move it yourself)
  • Lone, orphan calf (manatee less than five feet in length)
  • Entanglement

Also call if:

  • You see anyone harassing a manatee.
  • You see boaters speeding in a protected area.
  • You see a dead manatee. By doing a necropsy, scientists can sometimes determine the cause of death and better understand the dangers to manatees.
  • You see a manatee tagged with a radio or satellite transmitter. Sightings of tagged manatees help provide researchers with information that can be used to protect manatees and their habitat. However, do not attempt to remove the transmitter. It is designed to come off if it becomes entangled, so the animal won’t be trapped.

Outside of florida

Please report any manatee sightings outside of Florida to the appropriate agency or rescue organization for your state.

Manatees Ace and Venice await release.
Manatees Ace and Venice await release back into their natural environment near Fort Myers, Florida. Ace had been been rescued for cold stress and was rehabilitated at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, and Venice was rehabilitated at ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

Alabama (and Mississippi)

Call Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Manatee Sighting Network (DISL MSN): 1-866-493-5803 to report injured manatees. To report a sighting, submit DISL’s manatee sighting form.


Call the Mystic Aquarium Animal Rescue Center hotline: 1-860-572-5955 x107.


Call the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR) hotline: 302-228-5029.


Call the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Conservation Section coastal office: 1-800-2-SAVE-ME (1-800-272-8363) or 1-800-241-4113 after hours or on weekends.


Call the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries hotline: 1-800-442-2511.


Call the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Response hotline: 1-800-628-9944.

Staff and volunteers at ZooTampa at Lowry Park prepare manatees Annie and her calf Naui for release back into the wild. SMC provides financial assistance for the pools and stretchers/equipment at the zoo.


Call the International Fund for Animal Welfare Marine Mammal Rescue hotline: 508-743-9548.


Call Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Manatee Sighting Network (DISL MSN): 1-866-493-5803 to report injured manatees. To report a sighting, submit DISL’s manatee sighting form.

New York/New Jersey

Call the Marine Mammal Stranding Center hotline: 1-609-266-0538.

North Carolina

Call the Marine Mammal Stranding Network of North Carolina Central Coast hotline: 1-252-241-5119.

Rhode Island

Call the State of Rhode Island’s DEM Environmental Law Enforcement: 1-401-222-3070.

South Carolina

Call the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources hotline: 1-800-922-5431 to report injured manatees. To report manatee sightings, submit the SCDNR manatee sighting form.


Call the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network hotline: 1-800-9MAMMAL (1-800-962-6625).


Call the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team hotline: 1-757-385-7575.

Your calls make a difference

Release of Annie and Her Calf Naui

Thank you to everyone who helped with the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of Annie and Naui: ZooTampa at Lowry Park, SeaWorld Orlando, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Sea to Shore Alliance, Blue Spring State Park, and the Florida Park Service. Save the Manatee Club staff and volunteers also helped at the rescue and release. (Video by Cora Berchem, SMC.)