By Jacob Calle
In 1995 a female manatee was found swimming in a waste water treatment plant near downtown Houston. Well it has happened again, but this time in Galveston. A West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) has been spotted in the waters. Sightings of this beautiful endangered animal has been in a canal between Lake Madeline and Offatts Bayou. This isn’t the only manatee that has found it’s way around the Texas coast line. Heidi Whitehead, stranding coordinator for the Texas Mammal Stranding Network says that there has been sightings in Corpus Christi as well. Other sightings have been discovered around Tiki Island and again, same manatee? We don’t know, but what we do know is that we have major concern for this vulnerable mammal due to it’s change of it’s geographic range. The animal lacks the insulated body fat that it needs in order to live in Texas. While manatees only threat in the wild are boat propellers, this non-native Texan has a new issue, the weather. Manatees survive in springs where they’ve adapted to warm weather. It now being October the weather in Texas will drop and will not be suitable for this wondering mammal. Like your pet dog, manatees are opportunistic feeders and will eat as food comes along. They eat some fish, vegetation, and invertebrate. If the weather continues to drop our lonesome sea cowboy’s digestive tract will shut down at temps of 65°F. The manatee will not be able to survive so it’s imperative that we must keep track of it so we can be sure of it’s health. I spoke with Whitehead about the concerns of the manatee and as of now the TMSN doesn’t want to intervene in hopes that it will travel back home, but as winter comes we may have to relocate it back to Mexico or Florida. Please contact 1800-9-MAMMAL if you’ve spotted the manatee. He’s our guests so lets take care of it and be sure that it enjoys his stay in Galveston.
IF YOU HAVE SPOTTED THE MANATEE HERE IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
1. Do contact 1800-9-MAMMAL
2. Do NOT go in the water and swim with the manatee. Though, completely harmless, but you should always keep in mind that this animal must receive our respect while it’s our guest.
3. Do NOT feed the manatee. Please don’t disturb it as you wouldn’t disturb other wildlife.
4. This animal is not an attraction. It doesn’t need a large crowd of spectators trying to find it. Let it be. If you find it don’t attract people towards it.
5. Listen to Bob Marley.