Subject: manatee:Elusive Florida manatee dying (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Tue, 11 Mar 1997 10:49:01 -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: Tue, 11 Mar 97 12:30:00 GMT 
Subject: Elusive Florida manatee dying

Elusive Florida manatee dying slow death

    MIAMI, March 10 (Reuter) - Animal activists were in a race
against time to capture Phil the sea cow and rush him into
surgery before he takes to the open sea and is lost to a cord
that is slowly squeezing him to death.
     Phil, one of Florida's remaining 2,300 endangered manatees,
was being killed by a loop of metal construction cable or rope
that became wrapped around his body when he was a baby, experts
     He was last spotted Thursday in a suburban Miami canal.
Though a rescuer had him eating out of her hand, Phil slipped
away before he could be captured in a net.
     Manatees grow quickly, weighing 500 pounds (227 kg) after
their first year and ultimately going up to 3,000 pounds (1,360
kg). The hoop was cutting through the flesh of the 2-year-old
manatee, slowly killing him, experts said.
     "His body is growing around it. It's actually squeezing
him," Dr. Gregory Bossart, a veterinarian at the University of
Miami. "I've looked at him with binoculars and it's quite clear
that the skin is starting to grow around the cord."
     Surgery is needed to remove it, Bossart said.
     Experts said if they don't capture Phil by the time he is
ready to migrate to cooler northern waters for the summer, they
may lose track of him and he could die before his regular winter
return to Miami.
     Manatees, lumbering vegetarian giants that like to drift
just beneath the surface of Florida's warm canals, bays and
coastal waters, often are killed by speeding boats.
     The Florida population was badly hurt last year by an
outbreak of red tide, a massive algae bloom, on the state's west
coast. About 415 manatees died.