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Tagged manatees evade biologists

State biologists who were tracking a pair of manatees by satellite have lost track of them and now are asking the public for help. The two males, Teco and Lawton, were part of a study of the migration patterns of manatees. They and two other manatees, Apollo and Lunar, were fitted with satellite, radio and sonic transmitter tags at the Big Bend Power Plant in Apollo Beach in February and turned loose. But biologists lost contact with Teco and Lawton on May 26 near Sarasota, and have recovered Teco's transmitter tag.

So far there is no sign that the manatees were injured or killed. The manatees still should be wearing the belts that carried the tags.

Anyone seeing the missing manatees should call Jamie L. Serino or Amy Welty of the Florida Marine Research Institute in St. Petersburg at 896-8626.

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