Info: Wayward Manatee

Michael Williamson (whe_william@flo.org)
Mon, 17 Aug 1995 14:06:10

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From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@FLO.ORG>
Subject: Info: Wayward Manatee
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Subj:	Wayward Manatee
 
Date:         Wed, 16 Aug 1995 11:27:00 UTC
Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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From:         r.mallon1@genie.geis.com
Subject:      Wayward Manatee
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Wayward Manatee
 
By BRIGITTE GREENBERG
 Associated Press Writer
   STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A wayward manatee wandering north became
the first of its species known to reach New England, marine experts
said Tuesday.
   The animal has astounded marine biologists, who for the first
time have documented a member of this endangered species moving
beyond America's mid-Atlantic states. The manatee, also known as a
sea cow, was spotted swimming and resting on the industrial shores
of New Haven on Saturday.
   "We have never documented a manatee sighting north of the
Chesapeake Bay," said Jim Reid of the National Biological Service.
   Up to 2,000 manatees live along the United States, most off the
Florida coast. Some migrate as far north as the Carolinas in the
summer, but they usually stick to southern seas because they cannot
live long in temperatures below 65 degrees.
   This manatee, nicknamed Chessie, first shocked scientists last
year when it was spotted in Virginia's Chesapeake Bay. Worried that
it would die when the water turned cold, rescuers trapped it, and
airlifted it back to Florida, attaching a radio beacon to its tail
at that time.
   But once again, the 10-foot, 1,200-pound manatee has spent its
summer moving north. It has traveled up to 20 to 30 miles per day,
stopping periodically to rest and feed.
   Scientists are not sure what they will do if it does not turn
around soon. The temperature of local waters has been in the upper
70s, Reid said.
   "Once Chessie reaches cold water or the weather turns slightly
cooler, we hope that he will make his own decision to return
south," Reid said.
   Scientists declined to say where exactly Chessie is for fear of
drawing unwanted attention from people.
   Manatees are vegetarians who have no natural predators, but
their numbers have plummeted because they are often struck and
killed by the boats that frequent Florida waterways. They need to
surface to breathe.
   They do not tend to be social creatures, often traveling alone.
Yet Reid said he was not sure why Chessie traveled this far north.
   "The long distance and his persistent move north is what puts
him outside of the normal population," Reid said. "Maybe he is a
more curious and intrepid individual than others in the
population."