Report Cold-Stressed Manatees
Manatees have little body fat despite their large size, and they cannot tolerate water temperatures below 68° F (20° C) for long periods of time. If the manatee looks malnourished or emaciated, behaves lethargically, or if it has white patches of sloughed-off skin, it may be cold stressed. Manatees spotted outside of Florida past the month of November may need to be rescued and should be reported. Please report to the agencies below.
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. If you see a stranded manatee, please report it to the agencies below. Do not try to push it back in the water or move the manatee yourself. Please report sick or injured manatees in Florida as soon as possible by calling 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). Rescue information for areas outside Florida is located below.
How to Get Help for Manatees
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.
Call the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at 1-800-442-2511.
Call the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-800-9-MAMMAL (800-962-6625).
Please give dispatchers the exact location of the manatee.
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 a malnourished and emaciated manatee with white patches where the skin has sloughed off. Manatees can die from exposure to prolonged cold weather, and the manatee may be cold stressed.
- 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.