Subject: Manatee Rescue (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Sun, 16 Mar 1997 12:05:16 -0500 (EST)

J. Michael Williamson
   Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
   Associate Professor-Science
   Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
fax:    617.734.8666, or 617.566.7369

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 97 14:45:00 GMT 
Subject: Manatee Rescue

Manatee Rescue

 Associated Press Writer
   CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -- After eluding her would-be saviors for
nearly two years, an elusive manatee that was slowly being
strangled by a piece of cord fell for gobs of lettuce and let down
her guard long enough to be captured.
   Biologists on Thursday cornered the 360-pound manatee and
removed the ring of cord that had somehow gotten wrapped around her
body. They also realized that the beast they had nicknamed Phil was
really a Phyllis.
   Scientists have been working for years to save the manatee, an
endangered species. The gentle, walrus-like animals, which can
reach up to 12 feet and 500 pounds, are found primarily the waters
off Florida, the West Indies and Belize.
   About a dozen rescuers from Miami Seaquarium, the Florida Marine
Patrol, and other agencies took part in getting Phyllis out of a
canal in a ritzy Coral Gables neighborhood.
   Veterinarians feared the cord, used to bind newspapers or
shipping material, would have eventually squeezed 2-year-old
Phyllis to death as she grew. There were already signs of infection
as the cord cut into her skin.
   "If we hadn't gotten her she certainly would have died this
winter," said University of Miami veterinarian Greggory Bossart,
who examined the mammal.
   "This is what man is doing to the manatee," Bossart said.
"We're killing off the species."
   She was being held in a holding pool while tests were done on
her. Eventually, she is to be released back into the wild if she's
well enough.
   Manatees are known to be sluggish but Phyllis fast enough to
avoid capture since she was first sighted with the cord around her
abdomen when she was a calf.
   Sightings of Phyllis increased in the last few weeks, and her
plight has generated lots of publicity. In fact, a rescue try on
Wednesday failed when onlookers and news helicopters converged on
the area and Phyllis fled.
   Biologists returned to the scene again Thursday and found
Phyllis back frolicking with her herd. This time, they took
advantage of the sea cow's weakness for lettuce and netted her
before she had a chance to get away.
   The manatee is coming off a deadly year. Marine officials
counted 2,639 of them last year, a record since the counts began in
the 1970s. But 415 died, also a record. An outbreak of "red
tide," micro-organisms that emit toxins, is blamed for 151 of
those deaths. Another major danger to manatees are boats, which
last year struck and killed 60 of them.