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Keywords:

  • manatee;
  • Trichechus manatus;
  • photo-identification;
  • scars;
  • distribution;
  • migration;
  • movements;
  • aggregations;
  • Florida

Abstract

Photographs of distinctively scarred manatees (Trichechus manatus) were taken at aggregation sites throughout Florida and assembled into a catalog for identifying individuals. Resightings of known manatees in different years or at different locations enabled us to document site fidelity and long-distance movements. Of the 891 individuals included in the catalog as of August 1986, 470 (53%) were resighted at least once. We documented 219 cases of seasonal returns to specific aggregation sites and 98 instances of movements between areas. Movements in excess of 820 km were documented for individuals on the east coast of Florida. Rapid movements south during early winter, as well as northerly spring movements, verify a seasonal migration pattern for many individuals along Florida's east coast. The wide-ranging migratory habits of manatees in Florida must be considered if meaningful management strategies are to be developed and implemented.