If you spot a sick, injured, or orphaned manatee or a manatee that is being harassed, you should immediately report it. Also report dead manatees or a manatee wearing a “tag” or tracking device. Note: A red tide bloom in southwest Florida is currently affecting manatees and other wildlife. Red tide acts as a neurotoxin in manatees, giving them seizures that can result in drowning. Please report sick or injured manatees in Florida as soon as possible by calling 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) as manatees can often be saved if rescued in time. If manatees exposed to red tide can be moved out of the affected area by trained biologists and stabilized at a critical care facility, their prognosis is often very good. Rescue information for areas outside Florida is located below.

Many people know to call wildlife officials when they see sick, injured, or orphaned manatees. But how can you determine if a manatee is in trouble? Watch our video to find out.

 

Ann Spellman, FWC, and Cora Berchem with SMC tend to a manatee calf named Naui shortly after her rescue at Blue Spring State Park in Florida. Both Naui and her mother Annie had to be rescued because they were malnourished.

How to Get Help for Manatees

Florida:

Call 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). You can also send a text message or email to Tip@MyFWC.com or use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio. You can also download the free FWC Reporter app on your smartphone or tablet.

Maryland, North Carolina, or any eastern state north of Florida:

Click the following link to get information on how to report manatees to your local wildlife officials.

Alabama and Mississippi:

Call Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Manatee Sighting Network at 1-866-493-5803.

Louisiana:

Call the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at 1-800-442-2511.

Texas:

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

Please give dispatchers the exact location of the manatee.

 

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.

If the manatee appears injured, please call right away. If injuries are not obvious, but you still suspect the manatee may be injured, try to determine the number of times the manatee surfaces to breathe during a five minute period before calling. Since manatees can stay submerged for up to 15 minutes at a time, frequent surfacing could be indicative of an injury. Please call:

  • If you see a manatee with a pink or red wound or with deep cuts. This means the wound is fresh.
  • If you see a manatee with grayish-white or white wounds, this likely means the wound has healed. But the manatee can still have internal injuries, so continue to observe the animal for any of the other characteristics listed here.
  • If the manatee is tilting to one side, unable to submerge, seems to have trouble breathing, or is acting strangely.
  • If you observe a manatee calf by itself with no adults around for an extended period of time. Manatee calves may remain dependent on their mothers for up to two years. If the mother dies before the calf is weaned, there is a strong likelihood the calf will not survive alone.
  • If you see anyone harassing a manatee.
  • If you see boaters speeding in a protected area.
  • If you see a manatee who has become entangled in monofilament line, crabtrap lines, or other debris. Do not attempt to remove debris by yourself. Debris may be embedded underneath the skin and only a trained veterinarian can adequately assess and repair the damage.
  • If you see a dead manatee. By doing a necropsy, scientists can sometimes determine the cause of death and better understand the dangers to manatees.
  • If 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.
A big thank you to everyone who helped with the rescue, rehab, 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. Above, Annie and Naui are released at Blue Spring State Park in Florida. (Video by Cora Berchem, SMC.)