Special visitor to the bay

The Bay has a special summer visitor! The National Aquarium’s marine animal rescue team has confirmed a manatee sighting in Havre de Grace, MD over the weekend. The Aquarium and the Coast Guard are keeping tabs on the animal to ensure its safety and monitor its movements.

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Aquarium staff members reached out federal officials at the U.S. Geological Society in Florida to possibly identify the animal and its usual locale in southern waters. Because of unique scarring on its tail, the manatee was successfully identified as “Ilya” M1062 (‘eel – YAH’), a male who was first photo-documented in 1994 when he was still a dependent calf.  ALL of his known history, through 2006, has been from sites in the Miami area.

We bring this to your attention to share important information when it comes to public interaction with marine animals. Local boaters and others around this part of the Bay need to be aware that the animal is in the vicinity and use common sense practices to keep themselves and the manatee safe:

  • Boaters to these areas should slow down when traveling by boat in inlets and around shallows to avoid striking the manatee, and observe no wake signs.
  • No one should approach the manatee. It is a violation of Federal law to touch, disturb or interact with marine mammals. This includes feeding them – no feeding!
  • Keep at least a 50 foot distance. This is for human safety as well – manatees are not aggressive but they are wild animals, not tamed or conditioned to human interaction.

Officials say that manatees are infrequent visitors to the Chesapeake Bay but it’s not unheard of to see them here in search of food once the water is warm enough for their liking. Manatees are vegetarians that feed on sea grass. They travel alone, and are among the few marine mammals that can tolerate both salt or fresh water.

If you observe this manatee or any other marine mammal stranded somewhere, please call the Maryland Natural Resources Police Stranding Hotline: 1-800-628-9944

Photos courtesy of Officer Marcus Rodriguez, Havre de Grace Police

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