News

No Sighting Of Bama Over The Winter

TexasTeeMiguel in Crystal River, outfitted with a tagging belt. Photo courtesy of J. Spannon, DISL/MSN contributor.
TexasTeeMiguel in Crystal River, outfitted with a tagging belt. Photo courtesy of J. Spannon, DISL/MSN contributor.

By Dr. Ruth Carmichael, Director, DISL/MSN, & Elizabeth Hieb, Research Technician, DISL/MSN

Since our last update, we are excited to report that our formerly tagged manatees have been re-sighted and some of them re-tagged at warm-water refuge sites in peninsular Florida. Our team here at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Manatee Sighting Network (DISL/MSN) tagged four manatees during the summer of 2022, but three of the four manatees’ tags became detached in 2023. During December and January, all three of these manatees, Clog, Lynnspin, and TexasTeeMiguel were spotted in Crystal River, Florida. Thanks to our partners with Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, Clog and TexasTeeMiguel were able to have new tags attached, so we can continue to monitor their movements. Our fourth tagged manatee, Sanford, has also been spending time in Crystal River.

As we monitor these tagged manatees with the help of our partners, we also keep a lookout for Save the Manatee Club adoptee Bama, but she has not made an appearance yet this winter. She was last documented by our team during summer of 2022. We are always hopeful to receive reports of her at one of her favorite winter sites in Florida or in Alabama, where she has been spotted routinely during summers since 2009. You can be a citizen-scientist and report manatee sightings at savethemanatee.org/sightings.

In addition to keeping up with our tagged manatees, DISL/MSN has continued our research efforts for manatees in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Current research projects include a study using facial hairs, called vibrissae, from deceased manatees to understand manatee diet and habitat use through time in the wild. This project was led by Levette Tucker, a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates intern, who spent the summer doing research with us. Another ongoing project aims to understand the future of manatee distribution in the U.S. Using manatee sighting data, including sighting reports generated through citizen-science, this study addresses how manatees may move to habitats further north along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts as regional temperatures change. Knowing more about future habitat use will be important to guide management and conservation efforts for manatees across their range, and our team is excited to share this work!

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