Normally it’s a lucky day when you spot a manatee in Maryland waters, though it probably doesn’t bode well for the animal if it’s this late in the year. Someone in Dundalk had that recent misfortunate when they stumbled across a manatee that had passed away and was left stranded.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said today that the late sea cow was found last week in Colgate Creek, just outside of the Dundalk Marine Terminal. A department spokesman said it was more than nine feet long and weighed between 700 and 800 pounds.
After the citizen reported the discovery, a team of veterinarians and biologists assembled to examine its body. DNR State Fish and Wildlife Veterinarian Cindy P. Driscoll said in a statement that her team is still analyzing samples from the creature’s body, and therefore doesn’t have an official cause of death. The department said this is the third-ever manatee death reported in Maryland.
Driscoll did say in a statement that Maryland’s water temperatures in late November are “well below” the minimum temperature at which a manatee can survive.
The National Aquarium shared on its blog this September that it’s common enough for manatees to visit Maryland waters during the summer months. Some Marylanders spotted one at least one of them paying a visit to the Chesapeake Bay last year and snapped some photos as it came up for air.
But as temperatures begin to drop in late summer and early fall, manatees usually make their way back home to warmer waters in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Unfortunately for this warm-blooded seafarer, he or she seems to have been tragically left behind as the bay’s waters started to cool.
The Department of Natural Resources and the National Aquarium both have rescue lines for this type of thing, so if you see any other stranded mammals while you’re down near the water, be sure to give them a call.
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