Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Hudson's Manatee Seems To Like the Croton-Haverstraw Bay Area

The manatee that’s been visiting the Hudson River lately apparently made it almost as far north as Kingston on Saturday before retreating to the Croton area, where a number of people encountered it on Sunday.

The Journal News interviewed Julika Wocial, a biologist with the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, on Long Island:

Wocial said all of the reports described the animal as 10 to 12 feet long. One caller said the creature had barnacles on its back.

"We have a pretty good description but so far we haven't been able to get any photo or video of it," she said. The organization has contacted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorities in Florida, she said.

"As long as the water temp stays warm, they're really not that concerned about it," she said.

Manatees are rare in this area, to say the least. Wildlife experts in Florida, which the mammal generally calls home, counted 3,116 manatees there in February. They migrate in warmer months, but generally not farther north than Virginia…

The Times, quoting Nicole Mihnovets, coordinator of the New York DEC’s marine endangered species program, pointed out that manatees are, indeed, endangered:

“… it is against the law to even get close to it. It could be considered harassment.” She said that the mammal could head back south on its own. “It should be fine if nature takes its course.”

The Croton Bay-Haverstraw Bay area of the Hudson is shallow and extremely rich biologically – lots of fish and, for a manatee, lots of vegetation to eat. It could be that as long as water temperatures are suitable, the manatee will hang around there.


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