OUTER BANKS, N.C. (WAVY) – Animal experts want you to keep an eye out for manatees.

The North Carolina Aquarium said there have been live sightings this time of the year for the past three years. The sea mammal is very sensitive to cold temperatures. That’s why manatees move south during the winter.

“They should be heading south,” said Marina Doshkov, marine mammal stranding coordinator. The water temperatures start to dip. That’s when we want to see them heading south down back to warmer waters.”

Doshkov said sometimes they linger around the area.

“They find warm water sources around thermal plants. They will hang out longer than they should. If people are feeding them or giving them water, they hang out longer than they should,” she said.

Our water temperatures this time of year are dangerous for the sea cows.

“Manatees don’t have a fat layer like most marine mammals do, so they are really thermally exposed,” Doshkov said. “That’s something we are really concerned about. When temperatures go below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, they start to be cold-stressed.” 

The marine mammals will have bleaching of their skin, sores and visible abscesses from cold stress, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Services.

Doshkov said if you see a manatee, you can report it to the OBX Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The number to report is 252-455-9654.

She said the network can help coordinate help from U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

“They work with Florida Fish and Wildlife and they will sometime make a plan to come up and rescue them and take them back down south,” Doshkov said.