Meet Dex


dex manatee

Dex’s Information:

Rescue Date: 09/27/2017 Release Date: 02/15/2021
Rescue Location: Ft. Myers Beach, FL Release Location: TECO Powerplant, FL
Reason for Rescue: Orphan Calf Tag Number: 208683

Dex was rescued as an orphan calf in Ft. Myers Beach, Lee County, Florida on September 27, 2017. He was 101 centimeters long and weighed 46 pounds at the time of his rescue. Dex was transported to Sea World of Florida for care.  He was released on February 15, 2021, at TECO in Hillsborough County. He was 257 centimeters in length and weighed 605 pounds. He will be monitored by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Field Notes:

October 2021

1. 10/04/2021 07:30 AM
Dex was moving through a shallow cove off Old Tampa Bay. He stopped at the edge of a deeper channel and began to feed on submerged vegetation. As the tide began to come in so did large rafts of floating seagrass. Dex and his friends sat at the surface feeding like the Hungry, Hungry, Hippo game. It provided ample distraction for a tag exchange and body condition assessment. He looked good overall and punctuated the observation with copious gas.

2. 10/03/2021 07:45 AM
Dex was traveling along the Western side of Old Tampa Bay. He stopped and milled around a small open area before ducking under a low bridge and continuing his travels. He pulled into a large, out of the way cove where several manatees were congregating. It was surprisingly deep, and Dex was busy doing something on the bottom, possibly socializing but that could not be confirmed. He kept his tag under, popping up occasionally in a different spot each time.


September 2021

1. 09/22/2021 09:00 AM
Over the last few days Dex has made a big trip around the northern part of Tampa Bay. Today he was resting from his travels in Mobbly Bay. He had rather consistent respirations every 7 minutes. Several drones began flying around from a nearby park and seemed to disturb him. He started traveling quickly until he reached a little nook in the mangroves where he tucked in to finish his rest.

2. 09/17/2021 09:30 AM
Dex emerged out of the restricted portion of a creek off Tampa Bay, along with 2 other manatees and a dolphin. He was heading out to the bay but turned back into the creek, most likely due to several boats just outside. He milled around the creek for a bit then came to rest under the mangroves near shore. When he was ready to be active again, he started moving through the mangroves causing a bystander on a floating dock to scream “Crocodile” and flee the area.

3. 09/09/2021 07:45 PM
Dex was socializing at the mouth of a small creek that leads to Old Tampa Bay. The whole group traveled together up the creek and through a culvert which leads to a restricted area. Photos were sent by our contact within the restricted area confirming he was still in the creek with other animals at 0930.

August 2021

1. 08/31/2021 10:30 AM
Dex has been utilizing a small creek off Old Tampa Bay that has restricted access. It was possible to get a visual on him in that area today. He was resting in a shallow spot at the very end of the creek. As the tide started going out, he slowly made his way down the creek. There were two other manatees in the creek system, but they were not in Dex’s immediate location.

2. 08/24/2021 09:00 AM
Dex was moving away from a cavorting group in Old Tampa Bay. He settled in an area with abundant vegetation and commenced feeding. He would occasionally take off as if he was going to travel out of the area but then suddenly stop and continue to feed. An Anhinga was actively hunting under him, which may explain his need to change spots.

3. 08/19/2021 08:30 PM
Dex has been enjoying the seclusion of a small creek off Old Tampa Bay, sneaking out to the grass flats in the evening and early morning hours. Today he was resting just at the mouth of the creek. He was amenable to having a fair amount of fishing line and hooks removed from his antennae before moving away to where some other manatees were hanging out. Some palm fronds fell into the water from tree work being done nearby and Dex took off into the culvert, continuing into the creek that is not currently accessible.

4. 08/12/2021 08:30 AM
Dex has moved around to the east side of the bay and has been utilizing a small creek off Old Tampa Bay for a few days. The only way to access the creek from the bay side is through a culvert that is only partially visible at low tide. He has been making regular trips out of the creek and into the bay with the outgoing tides. Patience prevailed and he exited the tunnel with a rowdy group of manatees. After some cavorting they separated, with Dex moving back towards the creek. He stopped before going back under the road and rested for an extended period. A mom/calf pair came on the scene, with the calf taking a relentless interest in Dex’s tag. Dex took an interest in the mom and the three began socializing together.

5. 08/02/2021 09:00 AM
Dex has completed another leg of his circumnavigation of all of Tampa Bay. Today he was traveling east across Old Tampa Bay. He wound his way into a residential canal and ducked down at the end by the seawall. Closer inspection revealed a submerged culvert that went under the road and into a labyrinth of additional residential canals. Not having a submarine, it was necessary to reroute to continue the visual. Dex was relocated, bottom resting in one of the aforementioned 999 canals.

July 2021

1. 07/27/2021 09:45 AM
Dex indulging his love for skinny, narrow waterways moved into a creek of that nature in Largo. He milled around the sides of the creek spending time exploring the large amounts of deadfall. He decided he had somewhere to be and started traveling at a steady clip.

2. 07/21/2021 09:45 AM
Dex has remained in a secluded part of Old Tampa Bay. He was partaking of rainwater off the surface that had just been deposited by a passing deluge. After a body condition assessment, showing him to be in good condition, he moved into a deeper trough where he bottom rested. A passing manatee caught his attention and they socialized together for the remainder of the observation.

3. 07/15/2021 08:15 AM
Breakfast was served in Old Tampa Bay. Dex and friends were feasting on seagrass in a sheltered area. Occasionally they would take a break and interact with each other then go right back to feeding.  As if to work off the giant meal, Dex started swimming at a brisk pace out of the cove.

4. 07/09/2021 08:30 AM
Dex has made his way over to the west side of Tampa Bay and was exploring north of Safety Harbor today. He was meandering along the bank of a long canal, occasionally reaching up to the mangrove trees but nothing was in reach. He found some other manatees and socialized with them for the remainder of the observation.

June 2021

1. 06/29/2021 12:30 PM
Dex made a big move north to the Little Manatee River. Today he was socializing with some other animals in a residential canal in a tributary off the main river. Dex followed another animal out of the canal and down the inlet just as a torrential thunderstorm let loose.

2. 06/21/2021 08:00 AM
Dex has moved out of the Manatee River and into Terra Ceia Bay. Today he was thoroughly exploring the shoreline, he came to a low bridge and opted not to go under instead finding a small marina with a boxed end canal. He settled in there for a rest.

3. 06/09/2021 10:00 AM
Dex was socializing in the Manatee River with a few other manatees. Things ramped up to cavorting though Dex seemed to stay just outside the center of activity. He finally pushed his way into the melee and stayed with them until the lunch buzzer rang. The group moved together to the shore feeding voraciously on the mangroves. Dex tried to instigate some more interaction but was rebuffed. He found a spot on the end of the lunch line and started feeding also. 

4. 06/05/2021 08:30 AM
Dex has been patrolling the creeks of the upper Manatee River but today he tucked into one of his favorite hideaways to relax for the weekend. He stayed in the center of a large pond, bottom resting for the entire visual. He had steady respirations every 7 minutes.

May 2021

1. 05/25/2021 08:30 AM
Dex was milling in the upper part of the Manatee River. The prevailing wind and current made it necessary to use the engine and once he was aware of the boat, he was off. He was headed to an area of the river where it might have been possible to observe from land, but mechanical issues prevented any further tracking. A citizen reported a sighting of Dex to FWC about an hour later, saying that he was socializing with other animals further up the river.

2. 05/18/2021 09:30 AM
Dex was milling around in a cove off the Braden River. Adjusting the boats position around a small island alerted him and he began to travel out of the cove. On reaching the main part of the river he traveled in a wide circle around another island and entered a conservation area closed to motorized boats. High winds prevented paddling or the trolling motor. He remained visible with binoculars for a while before ducking between some small islands and out of sight. Well played Dex, well played.

3. 05/10/2021 01:00 PM
Dex has moved up the Manatee River to another pond off the main part of the river. He was stationary near the bank, but his respirations indicated he was not resting. The small pond allowed for the boat to be secured and to approach on foot from the shore. Once closer he appeared to be feeding with small amounts of vegetation floating up. Later, he milled from bank to bank then started traveling out of the pond. He stopped to register his displeasure with the boat then left quickly in the opposite direction.

4. 05/03/2021 11:00 AM
Dex moved into a pond area, off the Manatee River, only accessible by a small creek. The creek appeared to have plenty of depth even at a lower tide to allow him to come and go as he pleased. He was feeding on grasses by the bank and did so for the entire observation.


April 2021

1. 04/29/2021 10:30 AM
Dex was traveling throughout small creeks off the Manatee River. He is super sensitive to the boat even when it is being paddled or drifting. He pulled into a dead-end creek that circled around a small island and seemed to be grubbing at the edge but moved on as soon as he noticed the boat peeking around the corner. 

2. 04/22/2021 08:00 AM
Dex was traveling up the Manatee River. He would occasionally stop and approach the banks where there was a lot of vegetation. There was a negative low tide, and he could not reach any of the plants. He would continue up and down the river testing different areas to see if he could reach the shore. He pulled into an enclosed cove and settled in to wait for the tide to come in.

3. 04/15/2021 09:00 AM
Dex was milling in the Manatee River, just outside a very secluded cove. He meandered along between the shore and the high-speed channel. A few passing boats seemed to persuade him not to cross it, though it seemed at times like he wanted to. An exceptionally low flying helicopter spooked him, and a friend (and me) and they took off. He was relocated traveling into the cove. He moved all the way to the back and rested for the duration of the visual.

4. 04/06/2021 03:45 PM
Dex is on a canal-by-canal tour of the Manatee River. Today he and a few other manatees were hanging out at in a boat lift basin. A wall separates a freshwater reservoir from the brackish river. There are places in the wall where the freshwater can spill over when it gets high enough, though none seemed to be flowing today. Two boats moved through to use the lift and both times Dex ducked down and moved to the far opposite side from where they were.

5. 04/01/2021 08:30 AM
Dex was resting in a residential canal off the Manatee River with respirations every 6-7 minutes. His visual was cut short due to impending weather.

March 2021

1. 03/29/2021 09:15 AM
Dex was in a residential canal off the Manatee river with several other manatees. There was a long period of calm socializing then Dex moved into a deeper part of the canal to rest. It wasn’t long before some more manatees came into the canal and Dex made sure to greet them. Feces was observed.

2. 03/23/2021 10:12 AM
Dex was feeding near shore in the Manatee River. There was frequent head tossing and bits of vegetation floating on the surface. He followed another manatee for a while down river stopping under some docks to interact. He then returned to his original spot briefly before continuing upriver. Gas was observed.

3. 03/16/2021 09:45 AM
Dex moved into a sheltered canal off the Manatee River over the weekend. This morning he was cavorting with a few other manatees near a seawall. An armadillo fell off the wall into the writhing mass of manatees. The panicked armadillo and subsequent rescue caused all the manatees to disperse. Once the little armored one was back on dry land the manatees reconvened and though some continued cavorting, Dex took a rest. Some more manatees moved into the canal and Dex roused himself to greet them.

4. 03/12/2021 08:00 AM
Dex has moved down to the Manatee river where he was hanging out near the mouth, at the edge of a large sandbar. Based on the amount of food in the area he might have been feeding but before that could be confirmed he became engaged in chasing another manatee. The two eventually settled down and were becoming stationary again when a couple of other manatees moved through the area and Dex took off towards them, traveling for the remainder of the observation.

5. 03/09/2021 08:30 AM
Dex has moved further south and today was in Miguel Bay resting with another manatee. They started moving around and settling in a rich grassy area and started to feed. A couple of boats moved through and Dex reacted quickly diving down and moving closer to shore. Each time he and his friend moved back out to the grass and continued feeding.

6. 03/03/2021 08:15 AM
Dex was moving through E. G. Simmons Park near the exit to the bay. He was pacing but in a more linear way instead of circular. He moved in a square shaped pattern back and forth across the creek, hitting the same four spots each time before changing direction. Like before he would go underneath the mangroves and be stationary for a minute before resuming his stereotypic movements. After an hour of this he completely stopped and rested near the shore for the rest of the visual.  About 500ft, by land, behind where he was resting, there was a cavorting group, however they were separated from him by a mangrove peninsula and .25 mile by water route.

7. 03/01/2021 12:15 PM
Dex has spent a few days exploring E.G. Simmons Park. Today he was in a small canal that connects to the park. He was pacing very slowly. After about a half hour he became stationary under a mangrove but after a minute he came out and paced. He continued to become stationary under a mangrove then come out pacing all the way down the canal. 

February 2021

1. 02/25/2021 12:15 PM
Dex has been on a tour of the canal system south of Apollo Beach where he has been observed pacing quite a bit. Today he was in a different canal following a mom/calf pair. They moved out into the shallows of the bay near the channel and started cavorting. The wake of a few passing boats disturbed the ambience and they moved further out. At one point when the research boat was close to them and the larger manatee moved around to the back of the boat and was mouthing at the water discharge. The engine was turned off and she left.  Dex did not participate in the inappropriate behavior and hopefully he finds a better role model. The group remained in the shallows off the channel. Boat traffic picked up and they moved away to a less congested area.

2. 02/22/2021 08:00 AM
Dex was milling in a residential canal in Apollo Beach. He would weave in and out of the dock pilings moving up one side of the canal then back down the other side. He did this several times in a repetitive pattern. From the surface he looked ok, no new cuts, scars or marks.

3. 02/18/2021 11:00 AM
Dex was observed traveling into the TECO canal as Opal was released. He followed her trying to interact. She rebuffed his advances choosing to leave the canal. He turned his attention to some other manatees in the canal. Observation suspended to release another manatee.


dex manatee

All manatee Photos & Research conducted under USFWS Threatened Marine Mammal Scientific Research permit # MA770191.

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