Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why We Don't See More Manatees Up Here

We rarely see manatees off southern New England in summer, which must mean that southern New England is just too far outside their range for them to come here except on the rarest of occasions.

That’s what I had been assuming, until I read the Providence Journal story that I linked to yesterday. A better explanation for why we don’t see many manatees up here might be that there aren’t many manatees. The Journal quoted a U.S. Geological Survey researcher:

"In previous centuries it was probably common for manatees to migrate up the coast," said Catherine Puckett with the geological survey. Sightings of "sea monsters" in Chesapeake Bay were probably migrating manatees. "But there are so few of them now" -- a few thousand -- "that fewer of them migrate at all anymore."

This USGC press release has the “official” chronology of sightings of the manatee that was here this year.

And today’s Times has a long story about manatee research in Florida. Today’s infuriating fact: Manatees are an endangered species, with only a couple thousand left, and yet each year 80 manatees are killed by speed boats in Florida.


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