Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership

Florida manatees face many threats including watercraft strikes, cold stress, red tide, entanglement, entrapment, and habitat loss. A concerted effort is underway to rescue, rehabilitate, release, and monitor sick and injured manatees. The Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership works as a cooperative of agencies, organizations, and oceanaria, to rescue, rehabilitate, and release manatees.

Our Mission:

To inspire and advance manatee conservation by partnering cooperatively in manatee rescue, rehabilitation, release, and monitoring efforts; improve understanding of manatee biology and health through scientific research; and promote stewardship and financial support through public education.

Our Vision:

To support, enhance, and inspire conservation and stewardship of manatees.

Thank you for your patience

You've reached us as we are on the cusp of introducing a new website for the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP). We appreciate your patience as we make these changes. Meanwhile, you can still check on Manatee Updates. Note, it tends to be slow in launching.

Manatee Updates

About MRP

The Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) was established in late 2001 and marked the beginning of a new era of cooperation in the manatee rehabilitation effort. Prior to the formation of the Consortium, state and federal agencies exclusively provided post-release monitoring for Florida manatees rehabilitated at permitted and contracted manatee rehabilitation facilities in Florida. Because it is difficult to maintain funding levels necessary to meet all of the escalating manatee conservation needs, these agencies were no longer able to bear sole responsibility to provide this service. However tracking the fate and health of rehabilitated and released manatees is essential to determining the successful contribution of the rehabilitation program to the recovery of Florida manatee populations.

What are the goals of the manatee rescue and rehabilitation program?

The goal of the manatee rescue and rehabilitation program is to treat sick and injured manatees and release them back into the wild. The endangered Florida manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear. Sick and injured manatees are reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (1-888-404-FWCC) which is responsible for coordinating manatee rescue in Florida. After an animal is rescued it is taken to a rehabilitation facility. There are four federally permitted manatee rehabilitation facilities: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Miami Seaquarium, SeaWorld Orlando, and ZooTampa. Other facilities hold manatees after they are no longer receiving acute care. These include The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Cincinnati Zoo, Columbus Zoo, EPCOT's Living Seas, and Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park.

How does the partnership operate?

The partners provide funding and technical expertise to a third party group chosen by the MRP to provide post-release monitoring services. Since 2008, Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute (formerly Sea to Shore Alliance) has performed this function. The financial, technical, and field support that has been contributed by the partners provide an annual window for the monitoring program to release several animals to be tracked each year. The MRP continuously seeks additional outside funds to continue the program. The funds contributed each year are used for real costs associated with the program including personnel salary, tags, tracking equipment, and satellite time. In turn, Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute provides rapid feedback and data to the members of the MRP regarding the tagged animals. Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute visually checks on the animals and follows their progress via satellite tracking. Periodic field notes are posted in the Manatee Updates section of this web site.

Who are the MRP partners?

The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities with a stake in tracking the post-release fate of rehabilitated manatees in the wild. The founding partners are: The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Cincinnati Zoo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, Columbus Zoo, Disney Conservation Fund, EPCOT-Living Seas, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, Miami Seaquarium, Save the Manatee Club, SeaWorld Orlando, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey’s Sirenia Project, and ZooTampa.

Research Methods

ARGOS Satellite Tracking
The project goal is to follow rehabilitated manatees living in Florida by satellite tracking using the ARGOS system. Service ARGOS is a cooperative venture under the joint management of France's Center of National Space Studies and the United States of America's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The purpose of ARGOS is to allow citizens to remotely collect environmental data on a wide range of subjects, including: meteorology, oceanography, and animal ecology.

To track each manatee a special transmitter placed in a waterproof container is attached by a tether to the manatee's tail. The towed transmitter broadcasts to a receiver placed on low-flying (525 miles altitude), polar orbiting Tiros-N satellites (currently NOAA-D, J, H, K and L). A computer on the satellite records signals from the transmitters during each overpass. The satellite, in turn, relays the manatee data to Earth-based listening stations where ARGOS computers determine the location of the manatee. Finally, the locations are sent to the project scientists via the Internet. The locations of the manatees are accurate to about 0.6 mile.

In addition to location information, the manatee transmitters also record, and relay to the scientists via the ARGOS satellite link, information concerning the manatees' diving behavior (dive number and dive duration), local water temperature, and the transmitter's battery status.

Satellite overpasses occur in Florida about 15 times per day, each pass lasting about 12 to 15 minutes. In order to conserve transmitter batteries, some transmitters are programmed to broadcast only eight hours per day, and others broadcast for eight hours every other day. As a result, two to six locations are received per broadcast day. Each day the scientists enter the data sent to them by ARGOS into a computer database and prepare animal tracking maps.

Attachment of Satellite Transmitters

The radio tracking component of the project was initiated in February 2002 with the tagging of six manatees.

Manatees remain submerged except when they briefly surface for air, and on rare occasions they stick their head and shoulders out of the water when feeding. However, it is not uncommon for them to be within six feet of the surface, and since it is necessary for the radio's antenna to be out of the water when transmitting, the transmitter's canister is designed to be buoyant with the antenna sticking above the water surface whenever the manatee is within six feet of the surface. The photo shown here (courtesy of the Sirenia Project) depicts how the transmitter's antenna protrudes when the tagged manatee travels or floats near the water surface.

Mapping updates for tagged animals are available in Manatee Updates.

Contact

To reach out to us at MRP, please use one of the following methods.

Call:

+1 (508) 926-9777

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