Oceanic and AERIS have both donated dive gear to the South Floria Museum for use in The Parker Manatee Aquarium. The staff are now utilizing Oceanic and AERIS boots, fins, suits and masks while handling and caring for the Manatees.

The aquarium, “designed to house three adult manatees, holds nearly 60,000 gallons of water, including a medication pool. The pool offers both deep and shallow water, allowing the manatees to maintain natural feeding behaviors. An exhibit area within the facility helps to educate the public about manatee anatomy and offers above and below water viewing.  Manatee Care specialist provide presentations about manatee habitat, nutrition and physiology.  Working closely with US Fish and Wildlife and critical care hospitals for manatees, the Parker Manatee Aquarium is a second stage rehabilitation facility. A second stage facility provides a temporary home for manatees that will be released back into the wild after having received treatment from an acute care hospital. The Aquarium has housed nineteen manatees as part of its rehab program. Parker Manatee Aquarium is the permanent home to Manatee County’s most famous resident and official mascot, ‘Snooty’, the manatee.”

The South Florida Museum also has a webcam with a live-feed into their tank available 8-5 daily on their website: http://www.southfloridamuseum.org/TheAquarium/SnootyCam.aspx

Aarin-Conrad Allen, biologist and dive operations manager at the South Florida Museum sent us some photographs depicting the manatees they have throughout the museum as part of manatee rescue/rehabilitation coinciding with the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Management.

Read below to learn about the current research that is being done by the aquarium.

Rescue/Rehabilitation:

South Florida Museum is one of several different organizations of zoos and aquariums who participate in rescue and rehabilitation of endangered West Indian Manatees.  The animals we obtain in captivity were rescued from the wild to recover from injury or illness (usually boat-strike injuries), and will be returned to the wild to contribute to the wild population.  The United States Fish and Wildlife Service oversees all of the manatee rehab entities, as well as the release of each animal.

Nocturnal Behavior Study:

We are interested in discovering more of how the manatees behavior differs during night as opposed to during the day. Manatees lack a Pineal gland, a special mechanism in many mammals that controls circadian rhythm. (read more in attached document) (Principal Researcher: Aarin-Conrad Allen, Nova Southeastern University)

Manatee Chemosensory Research:

Within the last 30 years, we have learned the most of what we know about manatee chemosensory (sight, smell, touch, hearing, etc.).  These studies were conducted using younger captive manatees. South Florida Museum is home to Snooty, the world’s oldest manatee (63 years old). We want to know how these senses might change as the manatees age, so we are using Snooty to voluntarily participate in research projects to determine differences. (Principal Researcher: Aarin-Conrad Allen, Nova Southeastern University)

Manatee Vocalization Research:

Manatees emit high pitched squeaks and chirps to communicate. Very high pitched, and short in duration, our tank contains a hydrophone (underwater microphone) to pick up vocalizations by our manatees. These vocalizations are then recorded and cataloged to give sum insight as to what these vocalizations play in the manatee’s realm. (Principal Researcher: Dr. Charles Grossman, Xavier University)