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Mote manatees measure metabolism on treadmills

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SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - Have you ever seen a manatee on a treadmill? If not, you can see the strange sight for yourself here on the Suncoast.

Mote Marine Labroratory's resident manatees Hugh and Buffett are taking part in a physiology study and use an underwater treadmill. The sea cows breathe into a metabolic dome while using the equipment, so researchers are able to measure how much energy they use.

Hugh and Buffett train for the study five days a week at Mote and take part in the study every winter and summer. The goal is to help researchers better understand the mammal's metabolism, and share that information with manatee rehab facilities across the country.

"If we get a better understanding of their physiology by doing this research project with Hugh and Buffett, then we have one more parameter that we can give to the rehab facilities so they can test that these animals are really ready to get back into the wild," explained Kat Boerner, Senior Aquarium Biologist at Mote Marine Laboratory. 

Mote says this is the first time this study has ever been performed on manatees. Researchers have already performed similar studies on sea lions, seals, narwhals, and dolphins.

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