Friday, July 15, 2011

Flag Harbor Manatee Makes the Local Papers

Animal may be ‘Chessie’
“I was right there in reach,” said Terry Trefry of Long Beach, but she said she does not like to mess with wildlife and did not touch the manatee.

“It was absolutely awesome because I’m a big nature person,” she said. Both she and her daughter Tiffany watched the manatee for an hour and a half, and then she researched manatees on the Internet and learned that it may be a manatee named “Chessie” that has been seen in the bay and along the Atlantic coast since 1995. She contacted the Southeast Ecological Science Center Sirenia project in Florida, which conducts long-term studies on manatees, and sent them pictures of the animal. They are going to try to positively, or not, identify whether this is Chessie, which lost its transmitter a long time ago and has not been seen for awhile, she said.

Dittmar explained that manatees often get scars from hitting boat motor props and the scars can be used as identifiers.
It's kind of neat that this may be another sighting of "Chessie", the wandering Manatee.  I remember the manatees from Florida.  The place I worked hosted a small "herd" of the them in winter.  It seemed like all of them had propeller marks on their backs.
The curator of paleontology for the Calvert Marine Museum, Stephen Godfrey, said he arrived at the harbor at about 4:45 p.m. and saw the mammal, which was surfacing about every 10 minutes. Alga was growing on its back, which is common for manatees, he said. The manatee stayed at the head of Flag Harbor Marina in about 6 to 7 feet of water and it didn’t move very much for the hour he was there, he said. Godfrey, who has written a book about manatees, said, “I’d never seen a live one. It was very exciting for me.” His kids accompanied him to the harbor and they all saw the manatee, he said.
Wrote a book on them but had never seen a live one?  I understand he's a fossil guy, but even so, I think to write a book about them, you should drive or fly down to Florida, and see them in the real world, not just look at their bones in cases.

I got down to the harbor around 6:30 PM that evening, and found no sign of the manatee or the other spectators.  I'm pretty unhappy I missed it, but that's what you get for having a longish commute.
Flag Harbor Marina employee Blake Stamford, who called MSUERC on Tuesday around 1 p.m. to notify them of the manatee, said that he has never seen a manatee in the harbor.

Nobody spotted the manatee on Wednesday, Stamford said. “I think it moved out.”
Dang you, Blake; you should have called me first...

UPDATE:  Washington Post checks in at last, with an article conclusively identifying the Manatee as "Chessie", but failing to identify the location as Flag Harbor

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