State wildlife officials learned a little more about the two dead manatees recently recovered from the Homosassa River.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC’s) Fish & Wildlife Research Institute finished the manatees’ necropsies Thursday morning in St. Petersburg, FWC marine mammal biologist Gina Lonati said.
Manatee rescue volunteers hauled these marine mammals — an adult female and young male — on Wednesday from the Homosassa River.
Pathologists believe a boat’s propellor struck and killed the 12-foot adult, but the cause of death for the 7-foot-long calf is unknown because of advanced decomposition, Lonati said.
Weights were not taken because decomposition also prevented Lonati’s team from getting an accurate representation.
Lonati said experts are also comparing images of the deceased adult female with those of another manatee seen last week suffering from a boat strike.
“It looks the same to us, but our photo-identification team has a better eye,” Lonati said. “Sometimes (manatees) can have a lot of scar patterns, unfortunately, and it’s hard to tell them apart."
With scallop season opening this coming Sunday, and the 4th of July on Wednesday, boaters will be packing local waterways and are bound to come across manatees.
“Boating is a great way to enjoy the upcoming holiday, but manatees are out there too,” FWC spokeswoman Kelly Richmond said.
There are many steps boaters can take to prevent a boat-manatee collision, like obeying speed zones, slowing down, avoiding shallow seagrass beds and wearing polarized glasses.
To report an injured, distressed, sick or dead manatee, call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.
“Please watch out for them,” Richmond said.
Click below to see maps of manatee speed zones in Citrus County:
Contact Chronicle reporter Buster Thompson at 352-564-2916 or email@example.com.