Manatees Pick Super Bowl Winners

Manatees Pick Super Bowl Ravens

In the past, manatees served as food for Native Americans (sea cow, anyone?) and were mistaken by 15th-century sailors as beautiful mermaids (what’s that say about the real women in those times?).

Now, a new title has been added: psychic.manatees pick super bowl

Dolphins, whales and other marine mammals step aside; the lowly, lumbering manatee is finding its place in the limelight after Super Bowl XLVII.

On February 1, 2013, Hugh and Buffett, two resident manatees at The Aquarium at Mote Marine Laboratory, each correctly chose the Ravens over the 49ers to win the big game.

Amazingly, this isn’t a first. Buffett has selected the correct team every year for the past five years. Hugh has been correct three times during the past five years.

The manatees selected their team by swimming to custom-made targets adorned with logos of the Super Bowl teams. Both swam right to the target featuring the logo of the Ravens, and Buffett nudged it twice.

“They seem to have some ‘sense’ of how the game will turn out…or maybe they’re just fans of Baltimore,” joked Joe Gaspard, manatee care and training and research coordinator at Mote. “After all, they’re big fans of the Orioles that have spring training here in Sarasota.”

Aside from being sports fans, Hugh and Buffett are the world’s most highly trained manatees. Training helps their veterinary care run more smoothly and allows the two manatees to participate in research about their senses of hearing, touch and other sensory abilities.

manatees pick super bowlFor more than 14 years, researchers at Mote have been studying how manatees perceive and navigate their underwater world, where boat strikes and other threats are common. Mote’s research is designed to help resource managers protect these endangered mammals.

Now, aside from trying to get the winning sports teams out of them, Mote scientists are investigating how the manatees use sensitive hairs all over their bodies to feel water movement – an ability that may be important for navigation.

The two manatees are on exhibit daily in The Aquarium at Mote, which is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 365 days per year at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota.