Manatee Manatee
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February to May, 2004

About the Manatee Migration Study

More wrinkles than your oldest relative, gray skin and a lovely whiskered face - does this sound anything like a mermaid? Well, legend has it that sailors who thought they were seeing mermaids were actually seeing manatees!

These endangered gentle giants, whose closest relative is the elephant, average about 10 feet long and usually weigh between 800 to 1,200 pounds. Despite their size, the manatees are in danger and their future remains uncertain. A 2001 statewide aerial survey in Florida counted about 3,276 manatees and no count since has exceeded that number; their numbers are dwindling faster than they can reproduce.

Scientists in Florida conduct a wide range of research studies to help preserve the manatee. And Journey North students have the opportunity to follow some of these important studies, getting first-hand information directly from the scientists about manatee migrations, habitat use, tracking data and the rehabilitation of manatees.

Along with many other things, students will be able to:

Identify and count wild manatees from a canoe at Blue Spring State Park, with Ranger Wayne Hartley.
Follow Sirenia Project scientists in the field as they capture, tag and track wild manatees along the western edge of the Everglades.
Conduct an aerial manatee count from an airplane with manatee population expert Dr. Holly Edwards
Vote on a winning design for License Plates that help Manatees

As students participate and learn about the unusual migrations of these gentle creatures, they will also learn about manatee biology; how weather and ocean and air temperatures affect the manatees; the many threats to manatee survival both human-related (boating injuries, habitat loss, pollution) and natural problems, too. Plus, they'll learn about several related areas such as geology/hydrology, and new technologies to try to prevent manatee collisions with powerboats. Importantly, students will also learn what they can do to help the manatees.

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