Learn how to report a tagged manatee and how to tell the difference between a GPS tag and an entanglement.

GPS tags are deployed on a small number of manatees to provide us with valuable information on individual movements and habitat use that is helpful in promoting the recovery of the species. Because the floating tags can look similar to crab trap buoys, tagged manatees are often mistakenly thought to be entangled. One way to tell the difference is to look for a rigid antenna protruding from the top of the tag. In these images, the manatee on the left is tagged and the manatee on the right is entangled in a crab trap line.  

Tagged manatee  Entangled manatee
tagged manatee entangled manatee

 
Always report suspected entangled manatees or any other injury to FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline, toll-free, 1-888-404-FWCC, *FWC or #FWC on your cell phone. Visit our Web section to learn more about our manatee rescue program.

Diagram of tagged manatee

Reports from the public make a difference in helping us to track these wide-ranging animals. Please report sightings of tagged manatees by contacting FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline. Provide as much of the following information as possible:

  • The color(s) of the bands present on the floating tag and the antenna   
  • Any letters or numbers on the tag
  • The exact location of the sighting 
  • The date and time of the sighting 
  • The condition of the transmitter
  • The behavior of the manatee

  

Tags are painted a variety of colors and color combinations to help biologists identify individual manatees when working in the field. The tag shown on the right is painted with red and white vertical color bands, and the antenna is yellow.  

manatee tags floating tag

We ask that the public keep a large distance from tagged manatees so as not to alter their behavior. Please do not touch or grab the tags—they are harmless to the manatee. If you find a tag, a tether, or a belt detached from the manatee, we would appreciate a call so that we can retrieve the equipment. Please report any recovered tagging gear to the Wildlife Alert Hotline and arrangements will be made to pick it up. 



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Learn More at AskFWC