DISL Press site


May 6, 2013

As water temperatures rise, manatees will be arriving in our local waterways.  Researchers at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Manatee Sighting Network (DISL/MSN) gear up for another busy sighting season. DISL/MSN reminds boaters in Alabama and Mississippi to help manatees migrate safely by boating with caution and looking out for manatees when on the water.  “The best rule of thumb is to stay at least 100 feet from manatees since they are federally protected and report any sightings as soon as possible,” says Senior Marine Scientist, Dr. Ruth Carmichael. “It is important to remember that manatees are not always alone.  If you see one, there may be more, and they can be tough to see, especially in our turbid waters.” 
MSN researchers are also anticipating the return of four manatees tagged in Alabama waters last summer, including a manatee recently nicknamed “Brodie” during the first ever Alabama Manatee Naming Contest.  In August 2012,  all four manatees were equipped with GPS transmitting tags that allow MSN to directly follow the manatees’ movements.  The four tagged manatees spent the winter at warm water refuges in the St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida areas and are making their way back to Alabama.

MSN relies on the public to report manatee sightings in the northern Gulf of Mexico. You can help by reporting any and all manatee sightings to the MSN research team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone (1-866-493-5803), email (manatee@disl.org), or online sighting form (manatee.disl.org). 

Founded in 2007, DISL’s Manatee Sighting Network is the only formal manatee sighting network in the U.S. that is dedicated to receiving and mapping every manatee sighting from western Florida through Mississippi.  Since its inception, over 1,000 manatee sightings have been reported to MSN. Part of MSN’s research focuses on defining where manatees live and what they eat while visiting Alabama and surrounding waters.  DISL’s MSN encourages manatee spotters to report their sightings as soon as possible.  “Our primary goal this time of year is to remind people that manatees are here and that the sighting network is active.  We really depend on the public to report every sighting, any time, as soon as possible,” states Dr. Carmichael.
You can assist our research and help protect manatees in Alabama & surrounding waters:

  • Report manatee sightings to DISL/MSN via our website http://manatee.disl.org, toll free phone 1-866-493-5803, or email manatee@disl.org
  • Boat with caution. Boat strikes are the leading cause of human-related mortality among manatees.
  • Give manatees space.  Stay at least 100 feet from manatees.  Manatees are federally protected endangered species; any activity that changes manatees' natural behavior is harassment and is illegal.
  • Spread the word. Tell your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues to report manatee sightings to DISL/MSN.
  • Like! DISL/MSN on Facebook.  Find us under Mobile Manatees Sighting Network.
  • Volunteer.  Call or log-on to find out how you can become a MSN volunteer.
  • Donate.  100% of your donation supports MSN research and educational outreach.

Photo: Pictured in the middle is “Brodie,” dubbed during the first ever MSN naming contest. He is wearing his tag while in Crystal River, Florida this winter. Credit: Jessica Delo.


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