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Manatee Festival

What to do if you see an injured manatee

By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 10, 2003

Nearly all wild manatees carry the scars of close encounters with boats. Propeller scars that have healed are generally white or light against the dark gray of the animal. Some manatees also have been tagged or fitted with radio transmitters for scientific reasons. Those tags are attached to breakaway belts on the manatee's tail and include a tether that connects to an antenna that floats at the surface sending signals.

That equipment is sometimes mistaken for crab trap lines that can entangle and injure manatees. They can also be injured by discarded fishing line.

Wildlife rescuers should be called if a wild manatee is seen with open, red wounds or any sort of injury that involves something protruding from the wound. Any manatee that shows a buoyancy problem might also be badly injured. Healthy animals surface regularly, though far less frequently when they are resting. If a manatee cannot get to the surface easily or cannot swim below the surface, it might have an impact injury.

The local manatee rescue team can be reached during regular business hours at 563-2088. For the state's Wildlife Alert contact line, call 1-800-342-8105. If possible, someone should stay with the animal to assist the rescue team in finding it again.

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