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

You Make the Call! (Roll Call That is)

Do you have everything you need?

Just imagine this. Manatees are swimming all around you as you paddle up the Blue Spring Run. You see them, you see they all look different and have different scars. But what do you do to try and identify them before they swim off?

Ranger Wayne is lucky. With all his experience, he can recognize their markings on the spot. And lucky for you, today we have photographs of SOME OF the Manatees below. Follow these three steps to identify the Manatees.

Students will try to identify selected Blue Spring Manatees by looking at photographs, sketching what they see, and then comparing both the sketches and the photos to Ranger Wayne's Scar Charts which depict previously identified Manatees. This visual comparison is similar to how Scientists visually identify manatees.

Materials Needed
--Print and Go!

Step One: Photographs--Getting to Know You
The Manatees' photographs are labeled A-F. Study each manatee photograph carefully. Look for distinguishing scars or other features that make this manatee unique, look for and consider:
  • Which side of the Manatee is the scar on?
  • What is it's shape?
  • What color is the scar?
  • Are there other distinctive markings on the skin?
  • Do you see anything missing from the Manatee?

Who's in the Run Today?
Can you identify each Manatee in the photos?

(Click on each image to enlarge)




D (Two views)



Step Two: Sketching the Scars
Now, take a look at the Key Handout to see how Manatee Scientists sketch and label the Manatees' scars, cuts, and other features.
  • Then, label each of your Sketch Worksheets (you'll need 6 copies) with the same letter as the photograph you are about to sketch (A, B, C, D, E, and /or F).

  • Now you can begin your sketch. Draw the unique scars and features you see in the photographs. (Important note--the Worksheet is a dorsal view, meaning it depicts, and you should draw, the scars and features you would see looking down on a manatee's back from above. That way, you'll know what side of the manatee is the left and right side no matter what direction the manatee is the photographs.)

Example: If I'm looking at the photograph of Manatee A, I label my worksheet "A", and sketch as accurately as I can the features I see in the photo( and any that are missing too.) I sketch my drawing on my Sketch Worksheet as if I'm looking down onto the manatee's back.

Step Three: Comparing Ranger Wayne's Scar Sheet to Your Roll Call
Well done! You just saw lots of Manatees while "in the canoe". You were very observant and made many good sketches and notes. Now you're back on dry land and need to figure out WHO you just saw!

Here's what to do:
  1. Print out Ranger Wayne's Scar Sheet and compare it to your own sketches and the photos too. (Note--the Scar Sheet shows the dorsal view, just like your Worksheet does, looking down onto the manatee's back.)

  2. Looking at the Scar Sheet, can you find Manatees with the same scars or other features that are shown (or missing) in the photos and your sketches? Can you make a positive ID? Don't be afraid to turn the Scar Sheet or your sketches sideways or upside down to correspond to the layout of the photograph.

  3. If the photographs don't show all the markings on the Scar Sheet (or show more markings), don't stop your comparison. Ask yourself, are there at least some of the same scars/features in both the photo and the Scar Sheet? If so, you may have a match!

(Remember, it's not easy photographing manatees. They certainly are not idle! Plus, water conditions, wind, glare and other things can obscure a clear view too. And a photo is just a snapshot in time. After one photo, the manatees' appearances may change as new scars appear, old scars heal and fade.)

Now, can you tell Ranger Wayne who you saw in the Run today?

National Science Education Standards

Science as Inquiry
Ask a question about objects, organisms, events. (K-4)

Scientists use different kinds of investigations depending on the questions they are trying to answer. Types of investigations include describing objects, events, and organisms. (K-4)

Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations. Some involve observing and describing objects, organisms, or events. (5-8)

(Photo Credit A-D: U. S. Geological Survey USGS/Florida Caribbean Science Center)

Copyright 2002-2003 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