manatee sighting

Manatee sighted near Dog River, Alabama during June 2021. Courtesy: DISL/MSN contributors Ana and Tim Lewis

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. --The 4th of July holiday weekend means many local residents and visitors will take to the water. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Manatee Sighting Network (DISL/MSN) asks boaters to keep a lookout for manatees and report sightings to assist local researchers.

Founded in 2007, DISL/MSN is the first formal manatee sighting network in the U.S. that is dedicated to manatee research, education, and outreach in the region. Part of DISL/MSN’s research focuses on defining where and when manatees reside in Alabama, Mississippi, and surrounding waters.

DISL/MSN relies heavily on citizen-science to learn more about manatees through publicly reported sightings.

What you can do to assist DISL/MSN’s research and help protect manatees in the northern Gulf:

Report any and all manatee sightings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone (1-866-493-5803), email (manatee@disl.org), or online sighting form (manatee.disl.org).

Go slow when boating in manatee habitat, which typically includes areas with shallow water and abundant aquatic vegetation.

Boat strikes are a leading cause of manatee deaths.

Wear polarized sunglasses to help see manatee more easily.

Look for snouts at the water surface or “footprints” left by manatees traveling underwater.

Safely dispose of fishing line and other debris that could potentially entangle manatees.

Give manatees space and never swim with, chase, touch, feed, or give water to manatees.

Manatees are federally protected, and any activity that changes their natural behavior is illegal and potentially harmful.

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