Today's News Fall's Journey South Report Your Sightings How to Use Journey North Search Journey North

Health Watch

Watchful Eyes
As you've seen in your studies, migration is risky business for every species. Animals face many challenges and dangers along their way, ranging from natural risks like weather, predators, disease and lack of food, to the multitude of risks and challenges presented by humans.

Manatees face all these risks. And as our scientists have reported, manatees are sometimes found sick or injured. But what do you think scientists watch for to determine if a manatee might be sick or injured?

Ranger Wayne is in a unique position at Blue Spring to be able to see manatees up close. But how does he know when a manatee is sick? Afterall, a big part of the manatee's time at Blue Spring is slowed, as they are resting in the warm waters.

Everyday as Ranger Wayne takes attendance, he also take notes. He watches each manatee's behavior. He's always careful to watch for any changes. Look over his health checklist below, and listen to his descriptions of things he watches for in the manatees

Ranger Wayne's Health Checklist for Manatees:
Fresh Wounds:
Some times it's very clear that a manatee has been injured. Things to watch for are fresh wounds from boat propellers or skegs, or wounds on flippers from entanglement in monofilament line or other lines.

The Look of Emaciation:
When a manatee appears to have not been eating, this is a sign of ill health. Ranger Wayne indicates he's seen several that appear to be starving, or "caved in". And examination later has confirmed they were very sick.

Laying in Shallow Waters and Not Moving:
Ranger Wayne has also seen manatees that have stayed in shallow waters for a long time period, such as side creeks. The manatees laying in these shallow waters have come here because they basically don't need to move very much to survive. For instance, in the shallow water they can just lift their heads to breathe, instead of swimming up to the surface repeatedly.

Hear Ranger Wayne:

1) Describe his observations

2) What does Ranger Wayne say about manatees in shallow water?

Eating Clay:
At Blue Spring Ranger Wayne has seen manatees eating clay along the banks of the run, sometime to the point that their entire feces is clay. This may be a sign the Manatee is not feeling well.

Staying in the Run After Other Manatees Have Left
When the River has warmed up, the Manatees at Blue Spring usually leave the Run and head out into the River. So when one stays behind in the Run during very warm weather, it's not a good sign.

Listen to Ranger Wayne's comments about:

What does it mean when a manatee eats clay, or when one manatee stays behind?

Journaling Questions

1. Write a paragraph about what it is like for you to be sick. Try to address these questions in your paragraph:

How do you know when you're sick?
What are some of the symptoms you've had?
What do you do to take care of yourself when you are sick?
Are there certain foods you like to eat or drink when you are sick?
Are there certain foods that you don't want to eat when you're sick?
Do you like to be left alone, or do you like to be near others?
What do you remember about seeing a Doctor?
Did the Doctor ask you a lot of questions?

2. Now write a paragraph about someone else in your family who was sick, such as your brother or sister or your pet. Try to address these questions in your paragraph:

What were some signs that showed you they were not feeling well?
Write about what you would tell to an adult, or a doctor or a veterinarian about why you think your brother or sister or pet is sick. List your observations.

Copyright 2003 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.
Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to
our feedback form

Today's News

Fall's Journey South

Report Your Sightings

How to Use Journey North

Search Journey North