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Visitors learn how manatees are tracked

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By The Staff

Folks both young and old braved the cold to come out Saturday morning to Manatee Springs State Park, where members of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Sirenia Project held an informative exhibition on the exciting technologies and techniques used in tracking area manatee populations.

In addition to traditional VHF tracking methods, visitors were also shown new, high-tech digital and GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) tags, which allow researchers to update tagged manatee positions every 15 to 20 minutes and pinpoint their location to within several yards.

Susan Butler, who has worked with the USGS for 15 years, builds and programs the tracking units, which she says make the locating and identification of the over 2,100 “known” manatee in the state a much simple task.

Around 60 people were on hand throughout the day to enjoy informative games and exciting exhibits, which included fun matching challenges and demonstrations of the field VHF trackers. Although the local manatee were rather shy, a few rare glimpses did delight the anticipating crowd.