Sarasota, Florida -- A herd of mating manatees has been spotted near Siesta Beach. Reports about the manatees came into Mote Marine Lab on Thursday and Friday of last week. And herds like this one may stay in the same area for several weeks.
If the herd continues to stick around, Mote scientists urge people to keep their distance, for the safety of both the animals and themselves.
People have been observed getting in the water and trying to interact with the herds, but that can disrupt their normal mating behavior. And with manatees weighing around 1,000 pounds, people getting too close risk injury.
While the groups of up to 20 manatees appearing in shallow waters along the beach do attract attention, Mote scientists say they are exhibiting normal behavior and there's no cause for alarm. The gatherings happen when males try to mate with females that are ready to conceive and when the females try to evade them.
Mote scientists are studying the herd by taking photographs and DNA samples to learn more about manatee mating and populations.
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