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This Is The FINAL Manatee Migration Update: April 15, 1998

Today's Report Contains:

Click on map to enlarge

Latest Satellite Tracking Information

Knicky Continues Her Big Journey Back North!

"We are anxiously watching to see how far north Knicky swims, and where she settles for the summer," exclaimed Cathy Beck. "We also hope that by next year she will have a new calf with her!"

Take a look at the latest migration map and today's tracking data . You can see just how far north Knicky has moved again! In the last Update, Knicky had swam from the Miami area up to Jensen Beach. Now, she is all the way up near Cape Canaveral again, near where she started back on January 2, 1998!

  • How far north do you think Knicky will travel? Where do you think she will end up for the summer?

  • Do you think she might become another "Chessie", the famous meandering manatee who was seen as far north as Rhode Island (To learn more about Chessie, contact the Save The Manatee Club )

In Good Hands
Cathy Beck also sent good news about Brian, who was recaptured several weeks ago. According to Cathy, "Brian was underweight and his lungs were congested when taken to Miami Seaquarium. But, they officially reported on Apr. 3 that he is eating and responding well to treatment! The Miami Seaquarium staff are hopeful that he will be well enough to release soon, perhaps by summer." Good luck Brian!!

Final Comments From Biologist Cathy Beck

Cathy Beck

"I have truly enjoyed participating in the Journey North adventure and hope that each of you has learned more about manatees and some of the other animals with which we share our earth. Thank you for participating in the lives, and untimely deaths, of these six manatees for the past few months. As you now must realize, it is often a perilous existence. Manatees must daily face, and overcome, the dangers of cold weather, boat traffic, and trash littering their "home". Although we cannot change the weather, I am optimistic that we can, and will, conserve clean and safe habitats for this endangered species, which will benefit all other species inhabiting the same environment, including us humans!"

"This year, like too many others, has been a difficult one for manatees. We were deeply saddened to lose two of our long-known manatees, Hillary and Xena. The sorrow of Xena's death was compounded by the news that she may have been carrying a fetus. We also had hoped, after his captive existence, that Brian would successfully adjust to the wild. Perhaps after some R & R he will succeed in his second chance. We have full confidence in that rascal Bailey! If he can continue to avoid boats as well as he avoids researchers, he will do fine!

"Thankfully, Dakota and Knicky have seemingly adjusted well to a wild existence, and we will soon turn our attention to other, soon-to-be-released, manatees. I hope next year, you will be eager to hear how these four manatees have fared. Undoubtedly, we will have new manatees to introduce to you!"

Want To Say Thanks?
Cathy and the others at the U.S.G.S. Sirenia Project generously volunteered their time to bring you these reports.

You can write and thank Cathy at:

    Cathy A. Beck
    Sirenia Project
    412 NE 16th Ave., Room 250
    Gainesville, FL 32601

Ranger Wayne's Blue Spring Roll Call

Ranger Wayne Hartley

"The river has cooled down again but the manatees are well scattered, and with temps of 31 degrees C in daytime they don't much care," reported Ranger Wayne. Take a look at the latest Roll Call data. Looks like things are pretty quiet now at Blue Spring.

Roll Call Chart


Air Temp (C)

River Temp (C)

Run Temp. (C)

# of Manatees
















* If you'd like to write and thank our favorite manatee-counting canoe paddler, Ranger Wayne, who generously volunteered his time, you can send you notes to him at:

Ranger Wayne Hartley,
Blue Spring State Park,
2100 West French Ave.,
Orange City, FL 32763

What Does The Future Hold For the Florida Manatee?
As you know, the aerial count of manatees this year showed fewer manatees counted than in the last few years. What does this mean for the future of the Florida Manatee?

Still Cautiously Optimistic

Photo credit:s USFWS
Dr. Bruce Ackerman explained that this year's low count likely was the result of warm weather conditions, which influence the count accuracy. Despite this year's low count, Dr. Ackerman said that after reviewing all the factors he and other scientists are still "cautiously optimistic that the Manatee population is slowly increasing again." He explained that "we counted the highest number ever back in February 1996, 2639 manatees. We think that this indicates that the population has been slowly increasing over the last 20 years. This is supported by other kinds of data as well. But in 1997 and 1998, we counted fewer manatees. We know that more manatees died in 1996 than ever before, 415 manatees. This was because of red tide in southwest Florida in the spring of 1996, plus the cold winter of 1995-96. So we believe the population is actually smaller now than it was in 1996, but we also had two warm winters, and we never got the best weather for the counts in 1997 and 1998. So at this time, we are cautiously optimistic that the population is slowly increasing again, but we have to rely on other kinds of information to prove it."

Like Living On A Fixed Income
On the other hand, there may still be cause to worry about the future of the endangered Manatees. Researchers at the Department of Environmental Protectionís (DEP) Florida Marine Research Institute (FMRI) announced in a press release early this year that "Manatee deaths are increasing at a faster rate than the manatee population can support. The number of carcasses recovered has grown 5.8% each year since 1976. The population is only estimated to increase by two to four percent each year, based on the best scientific data available."

An earlier quote by Dr. Ackerman helps put this in perspective: "There is evidence that the population is bigger than we knew five or 10 years ago, and evidence that it's slowly growing, but from here it looks like the numbers of deaths are growing faster. It's like living on a fixed income, but your monthly expenses keep going up. That's got to catch up with you."

What Can Be Done?

Photo credit:s USFWS
"Our success in saving this gentle giant will depend on our ability to convince the citizens of Florida of the need for continued compliance with the minimal regulations that are already in place," said David Arnold, Bureau Chief of the DEPís Bureau of Protected Species Management."We need to understand more about manatees and red tide, as a mortality factor, it has the potential to overshadow our hard work and accomplishments in reducing human related mortality."

The future of the Manatee will also depend on what humans do to control growth in Florida. "Human population is increasing in Florida at alarming rates and existing growth management legislation doesn't seem to be doing much to curb it," says Patti Thompson, Staff Biologist for Save The Manatee Club (SMC). "More humans mean less habitat for manatees and other wildlife. So, in addition to better law enforcement, we also need better growth management regulation."

Growing By The Minute!
Ever wondered what the population estimate for your hometown is? How about the U.S.? And the world? Check out these popular population sites:

What Can I Do To Help?

Plenty! Take a look at these suggestions:

Thanks For Letting Us "Tag" Along

Photo credit: James Reid

Because today's Update is the final Manatee report this season, we want to extend a special thank you to all the scientists and experts who contributed.

These include:

Discussion of Challenge Question # 11 and # 12
Knicky's big move north in the last Update led us to two challenge questions about her movements. In challenge Question # 11, we asked you to calculate the distance that she traveled north each day in degrees, and then see if you find any correlation between the distance Knicky traveled on her longest and shortest days and the Florida temperatures shown on the satellite images?

The farthest distance she traveled was .425 degrees from 3/21 and 3/22; the shortest was .024 degrees from 3/23 to 3/24.From the weather maps, Knicky's farthest move seemed to coincide with temperatures that warmed up from 03/21 to 03/22. On the other hand, her shortest move appeared to coincide with cooling temperatures from 03/23 to 03/24.

In Challenge Question #12, we also asked you to determine "How far did Knicky travel between March 21 and March 27, 1998?" By using the "How Far Is It?" site that helps you find the distance between two places, we learned that Knicky traveled approximately 89 miles or 143 kilometers between these dates.

Today's Satellite Migration Data
(Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey's Sirenia Project)

  • Go to Satellite Data Table for Dakota
  • Go to Satellite Data Table for Knicky
  • Go to Satellite Data Table for Bailey

This is the FINAL Manatee Migration Update. We hope you have enjoyed learning about the Manatee this spring. Have a nice summer!

Copyright 1998 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.