CREATED Jul. 6, 2012 - UPDATED: Jul. 6, 2012
MARCO ISLAND, Fla. - A missing manatee has researchers on high alert. They say it's crucial they find her to make sure she is adjusting back into the wild after being rehabilitated in Southwest Florida.
Those out on the waters of Marco Island say they are use to seeing wildlife. Now researchers are turning to people like boaters to find Shorty.
Shorty has a belt just above its tail with a tag that transmits info and allows researchers to track it.
The equipment stopped working on July 4th just north of Marco Island.
Researchers have been tracking the mammal ever since it was released into the wild after suffering from the cold last year.
"We're anticipating the tag is still floating so it will be visible to the public, but since
it's not transmitting we can't find it very easily," said Monica Ross, Behavioral Ecologist with Sea to Shore Alliance.
This is not the first time researchers have lost sight of Shorty. Back in May, the manatee's transmitter stopped working when it was hit by a boat propeller, but with the help of the public the manatee was found 4 days later. Researchers were able to replace its tracking equipment.
Now researchers are hoping for the same kind of luck again.
"What's the likelihood you will find him again?" I asked.
"I believe based on the input we got from the citizens last time we'll be able to relocate Shorty again," said Ross.
Based on the manatee's movement patterns, researchers think Shorty is in Rookery Bay-Port of the Islands area, but there is a possibility the manatee could have moved north into Naples or further south into the western portion of the Everglades.
Anyone who sees a manatee with a belt is asked to call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922.
If you see a tagged manatee, please do the following:
Call the FWC dispatch 1-888-404-FWCC and give dispatchers the time, date, and location where you saw the belted manatee. Let dispatchers know whether the animal was with any other animals.