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A manatee breaks the surface of a small river with marsh in the background.
Information icon Jno, with her new tag, feeds near Ossabaw Island on April 1. Photo by Clay George, Georgia DNR, taken under FWS permit MA37808A-2.

Rescued manatee makes long-haul return

The big manatee rescued near Savannah last October recently reaffirmed one thing:

When she’s ready to migrate, it’s best not to get in her way.

The female nicknamed Jno swam from Miami to Savannah in 30 days along the Intracoastal Waterway, covering 500 miles between March 3 and April 2, according to satellite transmitter data tracked by Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

It wasn’t Jno’s first interstate journey.

After being stranded on a berm at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, and saved with the help of a dozer Oct. 1, she swam more than 450 miles to Miami’s Biscayne Bay in 23 days last November. So the relatively fast return this spring wasn’t shocking. But it did provide good information on the long-range northward migrations of manatees. Researchers are also curious to see where Jno ends up.

A map showing the movement of Jno from Miami to Savannah in one calendar month

Moving frequently between estuaries, male manatees usually have a larger summer range than females, said Clay George, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Jno was rescued and first monitored near Savannah last fall. At that point, though, she might already have been swimming south.

“We would expect this female to be on her way to wherever her summer range is,” George said.

She has made it to the Savannah area so far.

George and DNR’s Trip Kolkmeyer caught up with her on April 1 and swapped out the old tag for a new one. That will give scientists a better shot at shadowing Jno to her summer home.

Boaters: manatee watch is on

With coastal waters warming earlier than usual this late-winter and early spring, manatees have shown up sooner along Georgia’s coast. Boaters are encouraged to:

  • Practice safe boating for these protected marine mammals by slowing down near the shoreline and when in shallow waters.
  • On seeing a manatee, give them space, do not pursue them and never give them food or water.

Boat strikes are a leading cause of manatee injuries and deaths. Boaters who hit one in Georgia should stand by and immediately call DNR at (800) 2-SAVE-ME (800-272-8363).

Contact

Rick Lavender, communications/outreach specialist rick.lavender@dnr.ga.gov, (706) 557-3327

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