Contact: Monica Ross (407) 739-9260
Research Scientist, Sea to Shore Alliance
SCIENTISTS NEED PUBLIC'S HELP FINDING TAGGED MANATEE
SARASOTA, Fla. (May 20, 2015) – Scientists with Sea to Shore Alliance are asking for the public's help in locating a manatee with a missing tag. "Stokes" was last seen in the Ortega River, south of downtown Jacksonville; he still has a belt on his tail but is missing the radio transmitter tag. Anyone who sees a tagged manatee or a manatee believed to be in distress should immediately call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).
Researchers and scientists with local, state, and federal organizations tag and track manatees around Florida to monitor their health and better understand their behavior and travel patterns, usually as part of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (http://www.wildtracks.org). The tag or tracking device, consists of a belt, tether, and radio-transmitter tag. The belt is placed around the animal's peduncle – the narrow area above the tail – and is designed to fall off after a specific time period. The tether is attached to the belt and is designed to break free if entangled. The radio-transmitter tag is attached to the tether and floats just above the surface of the water line when the manatee is in shallow water or surfaces for a breath.
Since his release, "Stokes" moved north from Titusville to the mouth of the St Johns River, through downtown Jacksonville, and into the Ortega River. Unfortunately, his tag has been damaged twice by well-meaning citizens attempting to remove it. If you see a tagged manatee, do not touch the tag or the manatee.
Currently, there are several tagged manatees in the Jacksonville area and these animals may be spotted as far north as Georgia and as far south as Palatka, FL. It is very important that citizens not touch the manatee or its tag; the tag is harmless to the animal and removing it can actually compromise the animal's wellbeing.
- Call the FWC dispatch at 1-888-404-FWCC, *FWC or #FWC on your cellular phone, or use VHF Channel 16.
- Give dispatchers the time, date, and location where you saw the belted manatee.
- Let dispatchers know whether the animal was with any other animals.
Sea to Shore Alliance, through research, education, and conservation, works to improve the health and productivity of coastal environments for the endangered species and human livelihoods that depend on them. Sea to Shore Alliance is a Florida-based 501(c)(3) grassroots, field-based research, conservation, and education organization with projects in the U.S., Belize, and Cuba. Sea to Shore Alliance's projects all focus on three key species: manatees, sea turtles, and right whales. Please visit www.Sea2Shore.org to learn more.
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