Manatee Captures

A few weeks ago I accompanied the wildlife society student chapter at UF, to Crystal River. There we assisted several agencies with the catch and release of manatees for research purposes.

The manatee captures stared off by an educational meeting reviewing the habitats and the importance of maintaining these habitats for manatee populations.

Next we boated out to a cove where we swung a large net into the water. One end was connected to shore while the other was attached to a boat. The boat would make a semicircle with the shore around some manatees.

The crew on land would then pull the 1000 pound animals onto shore. This was no small feat; especially since in the first cast we caught 3 manatees. Two of which were a cow calf pair. We would then maneuver the manatees on to stretcher and relocated them to the other side of the cove were we would perform “work-ups”.

This consisted of weighing, measuring length and girth, flippers, oxygen and CO2 levels. Taking blood work and biopsies samples for genetic research. All of these things and more were performed on each animal.

We would then release them back into the water and catch some more. This was an exhilarating experience that I would definitely volunteer for again.

Author: Ashley Summers Tyer