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Manatee Migration Update: February 18, 2004

Today's Report Includes:

Manatees on the Move! Field Notes from Susan Butler

Latest All Manatee Migration Map
Click on Map to Enlarge

Dear Students,

The latest manatee migration data are in, and now you have the latest news on their latest moves. One of the manatees is REALLY on the move, having first swam a substantial distance away from its starting location, and now having made what's looking to be a return trip.

Who's the marathon manatee, and how fast was it swimming? Take a look at the latest data and tracking maps:

Link to Latest Data and Maps:
(Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey's Sirenia Project)

Then see if you can answer:

Challenge Question #7:
"After plotting and mapping today's migration data, tell us which manatee is the marathon swimmer described above? In latitude, calculate the distance it traveled between February 11 and February 13.

" Then, assume there were 48 hours between these locations, and calculate the hourly rate of travel between the locations, in degrees. What is the hourly rate of travel in miles? "

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.

I'll be back again soon with more information! Which manatee will be the big mover next time?

Susan Butler
Sirenia Project
Gainesville, FL

Video Clip: The Mechanics of Manatee Movement
Just how do manatees push, steer, and turn their bodies through the water? Use this video as part of your scientific observation process, and try the Journaling Questions to learn even more:

Link to Video Clip & Lesson:
Manatee Movement--"I Like the Way You Move"

Did You Know?

  • Manatees swim slowly but can swim up to 15 mph (25 km/hr) for short bursts.
  • Tracking shows that manatees can travel up to 50 miles or 80 km in a day.
  • One manatee named "Chessie" traveled from Florida to Rhode Island and back!

The Road Less Traveled
Tracking the endangered manatee is very revealing, because it allows scientists to learn about when and where individual manatees migrate. But tracking still leaves many mysteries too. For example, why do some manatees seem quite content to stay near a single area, while others move incredible distances away during the same time frame and conditions? Besides temperature what other factors might influence WHERE a manatee migrates to?

In the lesson below, watch an animation to two manatees taking totally diffferent courses, and see if you can uncover the reasons why individual manatees go where they go. Then try the Journaling Questions to think a little deeper about this:

Link to Animation & Lesson: The Road Less Traveled

Turn Left? Turn Right? No, Write!
Like manatees deciding where to swim, everyday we have to decide where to go and maybe what road to take. But did you think that anyone would ever write a poem about it? Well, Robert Frost did, and it's a very famous poem called The Road Not Taken. Here are few lines:

Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

Try This! Write your own masterpiece on manatee migration--go to the lesson:

Then mail us your Masterpiece! Send us your poems, as we may try to share a few of them in the next report. E-mail to: our feedback form

Raise Your Flipper When Your Name is Called


Each day during the winter, Ranger Wayne conducts a manatee "Roll Call" in the Blue Spring Run. His observations are very important, because they offer a rare opportunity to regularly observe the condition and health of individual manatees up close over the winter, and for some manatees over several years.

From his canoe, Ranger Wayne identifies the manatees, records their behaviors and any physical changes, and he counts the total manatees present. He also records temperature readings for the River water, Run water and the Air, as well as noting how far the dark water from the St. John's River comes up into the Run. Ranger records the daily information in his journal, and then later he transfers that data to his daily Attendance Sheets (many times even working on his day off to do all of this).

You're the Scientist: Ready to Take Roll Call?
In an upcoming report, Ranger Wayne will ask you to "ride along" in his canoe to help him identify manatees. To get ready for the ride, familiarize yourselves with the "key" features of the "Run" and take a look at some of the actual data Attendance Sheets that Ranger Wayne prepared. If you look closely, you might just find out why many canoeists got "upset" in the river!:

Mystery Photo Identified!: Hungry for Geography? Make an Edible Map

In the last report, we gave you a mystery photo. What did it show? It's an edible cookie map of the Blue Spring Run! To get a detailed (and tasty) understanding of the layout of the Run and the Boil at Blue Spring, make and bake this cookie map. You'll really get your hands, eyes and teeth in to this project:

Remember, we'd love to see your prize-winning cookie map--e-mail us a picture! Mail it to: our feedback form

Why Does the Daily Manatee Count Change From Day to Day?
Ranger Wayne's Attendance Sheets show that the number of manatees counted at Blue Spring can vary from day to day. In just the five days shown below, the number of manatees ranged from a low count of 0 manatees to a high count of 125. What might explain this? A table of five days of data from his Attendance Sheets is below. Take a look and then try to answer:

Challenge Question #8:
"Why do you think the number of manatees in the Blue Spring Run changes each day? Can you see any patterns or trends in the data below that explain the reason(s) for the changing number of manatees?"

2003-2004 Data
Air Temp High(C
River Temp (C)
Run Temp. (C)
# of Manatees

*(All temperatures are in degrees Celcius; "nt" = temperature not taken)

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

"Got Questions?" Ask the Expert Opening February 27
Is there something about manatees you'd love to know? Begin your brainstorming and collect your questions because Ask the Expert will be opening February 27. Our Expert will be standing by and would love to hear from you.

What's This? Looking Ahead

Do you know what Ranger Wayne is doing in this picture? Next time we'll tell you more about it.

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions:

IMPORTANT: Answer only ONE question in each e-mail message.

1. Address an e-mail message to:

2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #7, (OR #8)

3. In the body of EACH message, give your answer to ONE of the questions above.

The Next Manatee Migration Update Will Be Posted on February 25, 2004.


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