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Wild Manatees Captured in Florida River

Wild Manatees Captured in Florida River
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A young manatee named Pilo rests placidly on the deck of a research ship as scientists give him a physical on Florida's Crystal River in November 2006.

The five-year-old male was captured during the first of three planned expeditions to the northwest Florida river, where manatees migrate every fall to take advantage of the warm, spring-fed waters.

The expeditions, which resumed this month, will amount to one of the most comprehensive studies yet done of Florida manatees in the wild.

During Pilo's half-hour-long checkup, biologists collected all manner of data from their peaceful patient—from pulse readings taken with a portable heart monitor to urine caught in a Frisbee placed under his genitals.

Pilo weighed in at 916 pounds (415 kilograms) and measured 9 feet (280 centimeters) long. The scientists gave him a clean bill of health.

"I'd give him a [rating of] perfectly normal, excellent condition," said Robert Bonde, a marine biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) who coordinated the expedition.

"He's a great-looking manatee."

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Photograph by Blake de Pastino/NGS
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