From: Reuters
Published August 24, 2006 12:00 AM

U.S. Government Tracks Manatee Odyssey to Northeast

NEW YORK — A visitor lumbering past New York city and off Massachusetts this summer has broken a record for the northern-most trip for a certain type of Floridian.

A manatee surpassed the previous confirmed northern boundary for the species when it reached Cape Cod, Massachusetts this week, the U.S. Geological Survey, which has been tracking the animals for decades, said Wednesday.

"It's swimming, eating, and ducking into harbors to drink fresh water," USGS spokeswoman Catherine Puckett said about the manatee.

She said vacationers in Rhode Island gave it water from garden hoses after they became worried about the cleanliness of the drink it was getting from a storm pipe.

Manatees, which are endangered, mostly keep to the warm waters of Florida, where about 3,000 of them live. They are vegetarians which can reach 1,000 pounds.

Puckett said the recently spotted animal does not have a long scar on its back, which means it isn't Chessie, a manatee photographed by boaters off Long Island in 1995 and off Virginia in 2001. This summer's manatee has minor scars on its tail, she added.

But she said, like Chessie, it was probably a male. "They like to wander."

Wildlife experts and Puckett said even though temperatures have recently been warm in the Atlantic, and set record highs last year, it was too soon to tell if manatees have been extending their ranges because of global warming.

"They haven't been coming up in droves," said Puckett. "We're thinking that this manatee will probably pretty soon turn around and head back south toward Florida for the winter," she added.

Source: Reuters

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