Subject: Manatee:Elusive Florida manatee caught (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Sun, 16 Mar 1997 12:02:59 -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: Fri, 14 Mar 97 14:25:00 GMT 
Subject: Elusive Florida manatee caught

Elusive Florida manatee caught, spared death

    MIAMI, March 13 (Reuter) - A long quest to capture an
elusive manatee had a happy ending Thursday when rescuers
finally caught Phil the sea cow and were able to remove a nylon
cord that had been squeezing the endangered mammal to death.
     The Miami Seaquarium, where the animal was taken after a
team of seven rescue workers pulled it from a canal, also said
the animal was not Phil, but Phyllis, a 360-pound (165 kg)
female manatee about two years of age.
     Animal activists had been trying to catch Phyllis, one of
Florida's remaining 2,300 manatees, for months, after the
creature was spotted swimming with some kind of cord wrapped
around its middle, cutting into its flesh and slowly killing it.
     After a crew of seven people finally pulled Phyllis to shore
Thursday, the cord was snipped to relieve pressure on her
abdomen. To the relief of veterinarians who had feared they
would have to perform surgery to remove the object, the cord was
dislodged while Phyllis swam in a holding pool and was easily
slipped from her skin.
     The cord was found to be a polyester strapping cord commonly
used to bind newspapers and shipping materials.
     "This type of man-made hazard is typical of the problem
which the manatees face," said Dr. Michael Renner, a University
of Miami veterinarian who helped treat Phyllis.
     "If we aren't hitting them with our speeding pleasure
boats, we are carelessly putting fishing line or other materials
in the water which can be deadly to these shallow water
inhabitants," he said.
     Sequarium workers said they hoped that Phyllis would survive
her ordeal unscathed, but said she would be carefully observed
over the next several days.
     Phyllis's plight had become a cause celebre in Miami.
Manatees, lumbering vegetarian giants that like to drift just
beneath the surface of Florida's warm canals, bays and coastal
waters. Though the public overwhelmingly supports the gentle
creatures -- schoolchildren are taught young of their plight as
an endangered species -- they often are killed by speeding
     Florida's manatee population also 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.