Mote Manatees Make Super Bowl Picks

Suggested Tweet: The results are in! See the manatees' Super Bowl picks from #MoteMarineLab:

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Buffett, a resident manatee in The Aquarium at Mote Marine Laboratory, chooses the Denver Broncos to win the 2014 Super Bowl. Buffett has chosen correctly every year for six years.  Will this year be lucky number seven?  (Credit Mote Marine Laboratory) Hugh, a resident manatee in The Aquarium at Mote Marine Laboratory, chooses the Seattle Seahawks to win the 2014 Super Bowl.  Hugh has chosen correctly during four of the past six years.
(Credit Mote Marine Laboratory)

Will the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII?  It depends on which manatee you ask.

Buffett and Hugh, resident manatees in The Aquarium at Mote Marine Laboratory, disagreed when choosing the 2014 winner this morning, Jan. 24. Buffett chose the Broncos and Hugh chose the Seahawks.

“I’m going with Buffett this year,” said Manatee Research Supervisor Kat Nicolaisen, who sported a bright orange Broncos jersey.

She’s probably not the only one siding with Buffett, who has chosen the correct team for the past six years. His half-brother Hugh has chosen correctly four times out of six.

“It’s pretty incredible that Buffett is now six for six,” Nicolaisen said. “We don’t know how he does it. The choice is totally up to him.”

Time will tell if Buffett’s winning streak will continue: Super Bowl XLVIII is set for Feb. 2.

About Hugh and Buffett

Aside from being sports fans, Hugh and Buffett are the world’s most extensively trained manatees. Training helps their veterinary care run more smoothly and allows the two manatees to participate in innovative research about their senses, such as hearing and touch, and about their physiology.

For more than 15 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.

So far, key findings show that manatees:

  • Have poor vision and probably cannot see fine details.
  • Have good hearing over a wide range of frequencies, including the ability to hear pitches produced by boat engines despite loud background noise, and have a strong ability to locate which direction sounds are coming from.
  • Are some of the most touch-sensitive animals on Earth thanks to their sensitive hairs called vibrissae. Their facial whiskers can sense tiny texture differences and their body hairs help the manatees feel water movements thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Moving forward, the  researchers are studying manatee physiology — including their metabolism, nutrition, need for warm water and other traits of these unique aquatic plant-eaters — to better understand what environmental pressures manatees face and what conditions may help them survive and increase in number.

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. Hugh and Buffett live in the Ann and Alfred Goldstein Marine Mammal Center at 1703 Ken Thompson Parkway, just down the street from the main Aquarium parking lot. For visitor information, go to, scroll over “Aquarium” and click “Visitor Information.”

Support the care of Hugh and Buffett by adopting a manatee.
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Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 research organization based in Sarasota, Fla., with field stations in eastern Sarasota County, Charlotte Harbor and the Florida Keys. Donations to Mote are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. 
Mote is dedicated to today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans with an emphasis on world-class research relevant to conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, healthy habitats and natural resources. Research programs include studies of human cancer using marine models, the effects of man-made and natural toxins on humans and on the environment, the health of wild fisheries, developing sustainable and successful fish restocking techniques and food production technologies and the development of ocean technology to help us better understand the health of the environment. Mote research programs also focus on understanding the population dynamics of manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks and coral reefs and on conservation and restoration efforts related to these species and ecosystems. Mote’s vision includes positively impacting public policy through science-based outreach and education. Showcasing this research is The Aquarium at Mote, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year. Learn more at 

Contact: Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236. (941) 388-4441 or
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