CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. - Crystal River's power plant is a giant manatee hot tub during Florida's colder months.
Now, there's one gentle giant who's missing from the mix.
And there is an all points bulletin out to find him.
"They're kind of snowbirds, yes, exactly. They're smart,” said Dr. Ruth Carmichael.
Senior Marine Scientist Carmichael is part of a team at Alabama's Dauphin Island Sea Lab www.wildtracks.org and the Sea to Shore Alliance www.Sea2Shore.org that tracks and studies migrating manatees so we can better protect the endangered species.
She says Brodie, a young, strapping, male manatee, otherwise known as TMA010 was captured and tagged with a radio transmitter and GPS last August.
For the last ten days, he's been off the grid.
"We've lost contact with his tag in Crystal River, so we think that right now is the time period where animals are starting to move back," said Carmichael.
Though we think of Manatees as Florida's gentle giants, the team's research shows many migrate up to the Panhandle and over to Alabama's Mobile Bay.
"So he could be in the Crystal River area or between Crystal River and the Panhandle of Florida on his way back. We believe he still has his tag on. We think it may either be a tag malfunction or a battery failure,” said Carmichael.
Brodie's tag looks like a rubber band on his tail with a leash and a bobbing soda can and straw.
"The soda can part, which is actually a clear plastic tube, has all of the electronics in it that allow us to get the satellite readings," explained Carmichael.
If you see Brodie, you're asked to call Florida Fish and Wildlife at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). You can also text *FWC or #FWC on your cell phone or use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio.
Scientists are asking anyone who spots Brodie to note the time, location, and if he was with other manatees. They say photographs would help too.
"Our hope is that when he's coming up feeding and on his migration back our way that someone will notice the tag and even though we don't, can't see from the satellites where he is, that someone would report it, maybe send a photograph," said Carmichael.
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