Manatees considered healthy during Crystal River check-ups

By Kim Leoffler, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 7:58 PM EST

Just like it’s important for all of us to see our doctor for checkups, manatees need health assessments too.

  • Crystal River manatees get health check-ups
  • Vets look at factors such as weight, skin, body temp.
  • Checkups part of USGS study in Crystal River

The U.S. Geological Survey along with several other organizations gave check ups to manatees in Crystal River on Wednesday.

Veterinarians were on hand to lead the check ups on a handful of manatees.

"So far this population looks really great there's some really good habitat here that these animals really like to utilize," USGS Research Geneticist Maggie Hunter said.

The veterinarians look at several different things like weight, skin, and body temperature to determine how the manatees are making out in the popular refuge areas in and around Kings Bay and Three Sisters Springs.

"We go in we take blood, fecal, urine, skin anything that can give us some information on the health or the immune system of the animals we also use those to look at toxicology any kinds of toxins or contaminants that are in the environment," Hunter said.

These checkups are part of USGS study in Crystal River that's been going on for nearly twelve years. More than two hundred manatees have been evaluated over the years.

It takes a team of about one hundred people from several different organizations to capture, transport, evaluate, and release the manatees in order to tell the health of the heard.

The checkups are important because experts say it can help determine if more manatee areas are needed to ensure they have enough food sources and safe areas as populations continue to increase.

"We expect more manatees to come to Crystal River to utilize the refuge here and when they do that, is there a cost associated with that," USGS Research Biologist Bob Bonde said.

And while more tests and evaluations will be done on the samples taken from the check ups, so far the team on site said these guys are looking happy and healthy.

Crystal River isn't the only place these manatee checkups are done. USGS does them in other parts of Florida too as well as in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Belize, and Mexico.