Friday, August 25, 2006

Going Where No Manatee Has Gone Before -- To Cape Cod

Apparently the wandering manatee got as far as Falmouth, Massachusetts, last week (where a fellow who was snorkeling in search of his lost wallet encountered it) before turning around and entering Narragansett Bay. It was last seen on Tuesday, off Rhode Island, and is presumed to be heading south again. The Times quotes a biologist with the U.S. Geological Service as saying that no one’s ever heard of a manatee being as far north as this one – approximately 10 miles south of Kingston, in the Hudson; in Greenwich Bay, in the Narragansett; and off Falmouth, on Cape Cod (all are essentially the same latitude, assuming I’ve manipulated my Google Earth map to the right places).

What’s more interesting is not that it made it so far north but rather that it swam east, past Point Judith, which is at the southwest tip of Narragansett Bay. The Times:

Mr. LaCasse [that is, Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the New England Aquarium] said tropical species often made it to the Point Judith area but then turned around, as that is the point where tropical-type waters distinctly break off into the colder water of the North Atlantic.

“For this guy to get up around the corner, that’s significant,” he said.


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