West Indian manatee swimming and diving

Quantifying the effects of swim speed and diving on locomotion costs for a threatened marine mammal species. As the only herbivorous marine mammals, Sirenians have had to adapt to the marine environment in unique ways. However, despite being found in shallow coastal waters and often in close proximity to human populations, there is much we don't know about these warm water species. Working with two Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL, our team has been examining the costs of swimming and diving using peduncle mounted accelerometers (picture 1) to measure activity level and open flow respirometry (picture 2) to measure oxygen consumption. Our goal with this project is to get a better picture for how much energy manatees are using in the wild and how that can be affected by both natural and anthropogenic disturbance. (Photo Credits Conor Goulding/Mote Marine Laboratory.)