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Researcher gets $150,000 for manatee work

A research administrator at the Florida Marine Research Institute has been awarded a $150,000 grant for manatee conservation.

James Powell, who has been studying manatees for more than 30 years, currently administers the state's research programs on marine mammals and sea turtles at the St. Petersburg-based institute, which is an arm of the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

He will use the grant money to recruit biologists and environmental managers from Africa and the Caribbean and train them in manatee and coastal marine research and conservation. Follow-up technical assistance will be provided to support manatee protection measures including population surveys, establishment of marine mammal stranding networks, educational outreach and creation of coastal marine protected areas.

The grant comes from the Pew Charitable Trust, which selected 10 people to receive a total of $1.5-million in grants for everything from protecting wild sea horses to helping Ecuadorian fishermen protect the Galapagos Islands.

The annual Pew fellowships are the world's largest award for marine conservationists.