SARASOTA, Fla. – Scientists say a manatee that swims in waters near Sarasota has given birth to rare twins.

Mote Marine Laboratory says the manatee, Tomo-Bella, and her newborn twins were spotted by an onlooker in a canal on Siesta Key this month with the twin calves. Mote scientists confirmed the mother’s identity and know her history from 23 years of observations.

Photo of twin manatees with their mom courtesy Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Manatee twins are born between 1.4 and 4 percent of the time to Florida manatees.

According to a news release, Mote scientists first observed Tomo-Bella in 1993 in Pansy Bayou near Lido Key. Since then, they have observed her 230 times in many parts of Sarasota Bay, along with Fort Myers during winter.

Tomo-Bella has been documented with eight calves during the 23 years that scientists have been observing her.

Mote asks anyone who sees a manatee with twin calves in Sarasota Bay or surrounding waters, please email with “manatee twins” in the subject line. Please include a photo or video, the date and time of your sighting, and location where you saw the animals – but don’t disturb them.You may remember Tomo-Bella

Mote says Florida residents might remember Tomo-Bella because she was rescued, along with her earlier calf, in 2012 from Grand Canal along Siesta Key.

She had a fresh wound on her head and was showing unusual behavior when she was rescued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Mote. She and her calf were rehabilitated at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, and Tomo-Bella was found to have toxins from Florida red tide in her blood. Mom and calf were released into Sarasota waters after successful rehabilitation.

“To me, it was interesting that she was rescued with a calf in Grand Canal along Siesta, and now she was seen there with her new twins,” Johnson said. “Manatees may go to quieter places to calve.”

Mote last documented Tomo-Bella on Jan. 25, 2016, in the Orange River in Fort Myers.

As waters warm and summer boating season draws nearer, it is especially important to protect manatees other large marine animals in Florida waters.