Federal and state researchers have been involved in manatee (Trichechus manatus) biomedical health assessment programs for a couple of decades. These benchmark studies have provided a foundation for the development of consistent capture, handling, and processing techniques and protocols. Biologists have implemented training and encouraged multi-agency participation whenever possible to ensure reliable data acquisition, recording, sample collection, publication integrity, and meeting rigorous archival standards. Under a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife research permit granted to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Sirenia Project, federal biologists and collaborators are allowed to conduct research studies on wild and captive manatees detailing various
aspects of their biology. Therefore, researchers with the project have been collaborating on numerous studies over the last several years. One extensive study, initiated in 2006 has focused on health and fitness of the winter manatee population located in Crystal River, Florida. During those health assessments, capture, handling, and work-up training has been afforded to many of the participants. That study has successfully captured and handled 123 manatees. The data
gathered have provided baseline information on manatee health, reproductive status, and nutritional condition. This research initiative addresses concerns and priorities outlined in the Florida Manatee Recovery Plan. The assessment teams strive to continue this collaborative effort to help advance our understanding of health-related issues confronting manatees throughout their range and interlacing these findings with surrogate species concepts.