Alabama Tracks Manatees for their Safety!


Manatee News 8 25 2015

Photo Courtesy News 5 – WKRG


We manatees are very adventurous, especially in the summer. That’s because we’ll travel from our Florida home to different states bordering both the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern United States! Our mighty adventures can take us as far north as Massachusetts (yours truly loves this adventure) and as far west as Texas!

And speaking of adventures, I just got word the great state of Alabama has been tracking manatees because it’s summer and you can find some of us exploring their pristine coastal waterways.

Why do some of us adventurous manatees enjoy traveling in the summer months anyway? Well, it’s because we are warm-blooded marine mammals. And due to this, we need warm water temperatures, which are at or above 68 degrees Fahrenheit. This keeps us alive and we can function properly.

On a recent warm August day, Dr. Ruth Carmichael, a Marine Scientist from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab located in Dauphin Island, Alabama, went out on a research mission to locate manatees swimming with tracking devises on them. Dr. Carmichael has been studying the behavior of us manatees for the last eight years. She explained, “It’s basically just sort of a large softball size styrofoam float. It looks very much like a crab trap float.” Dr. Carmichael continued and explained that these tags serve two purposes…

  1. The safety of the manatee is a priority and is always considered. And as a result, the manatee receives a flexible rubber-like belt. This belt has sections on it that can easily break off should the floating tag get stuck on something.
  2. The other purpose is the tag is used for tracking. Dr. Carmichael explained, “That allows us to track them in three different ways. It allows us to track them by radio frequency, but also by the satellite so that we can see that in the computer before we go out in the field and see where the animals have last been picked up by the satellite. So it gives us the chance to make a little bit more targeted trip, so we’re not out here looking for a needle in a haystack.”

In the state of Alabama, the largest cause of manatee deaths is due to from cold stress. Manatees will head back home to Florida by late November; however, some may stay as the water temperatures fall below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. And when this circumstance happens, cold stress can quickly set in. As Dr. Carmichael explains, some manatees are seasonal visitors in Alabama and come back “year after year.” That is why tagging is very important, so the manatees can be tracked for their own safety. Dr. Carmichael admits that there is still plenty of research needed to understand the migratory patterns of manatees.

If you see any sick or injured manatees, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida.

Here’s the Save the Manatee Club link to learn more about us manatees …

Here’s a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation …

~ Kobee Manatee