Saturday, August 05, 2006

Manatee in the Hudson

Manatee in Barnegat, New JerseyVia sphere and the Poughkeepsie Journal, we learn that a manatee has moved its way up from Florida and into the Hudson River. This is the first known manatee in the River itself, though in 1995 a manatee swam into the Hudson River's estuary and then out into Long Island Sound.
The image here is from Philadelphia's Channel 6 News, which photographed the manatee drinking from a dock hose in Barnegat, New Jersey in late July.

This follows a decision by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to reclassify manatees from endangered to merely threatened. A petition for the federal government to relist the species is also pending. Manatees are slow-growing, slowly reproducing animals that are easily killed and injured by motorboats. Pollution that kills the vegetation they feed on has also contributed to their low populations.

Why this individual swam so far north isn't clear. The manatee that reached Rhode Island was airlifted back to Florida, and the following year it migrated to the Chesapeake Bay when the weather got too warm. As the norther waters cooled, it returned to Florida. Shorter migrations than that are common, usually within a single river system, and now often to the warm water outlets from power plants.