Manatee Photo-Identification is Research Technique That Uses Unique Pattern of Scars and Injuries

By  //  November 16, 2019

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In 2018 TB069 “Hedwig” died due to a boat strike

Predictable in her winter habitat, manatee “Hedwig” was documented 20 of the 24 winters since she was first sighted. (FWC image)

(Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) – Manatee photo-identification is a research technique that uses the unique pattern of scars and injuries on a manatee’s body and tail fluke to identify and track an individual animal over time.

In Florida, the scars are primarily a result of encounters with boats, however, manatees also acquire scars through entanglements, cold stress lesions, and fungal infections.

By annually photographing manatees with distinct features, researchers develop manatee sighting histories that provide insight into manatee survival, movements, habitat use and reproduction.

Manatee TB069, nicknamed “Hedwig” was first sighted as a calf in 1994 by the FWC Photo-ID team at the TECO Big Bend Power Plant.

Predictable in her winter habitat, she was documented 20 of the 24 winters since she was first sighted at the plant.

Over the years, the FWC Photo-ID team totaled 118 sightings of TB069 “Hedwig,” including documenting her with six different calves. In 2018 TB069 “Hedwig” died due to a boat strike.

Help conserve Florida’s manatee with the purchase of a Florida manatee license plate. Proceeds go directly toward funding FWC manatee rescue, research and conservation around the state.

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