Skip to comments.Wilson the manatee captured by scientists twice since 2010 (Hugh Manatee Alert)
Posted on 08/19/2012 12:30:23 PM PDT by abb
MOBILE, Alabama -- There was something familiar about the manatee hauled onto the back deck of a special manatee-catching boat Wednesday morning in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.
It didnt have any of the telltale propeller scars on its back often used to identify individual manatees. There were no notches or cuts in its giant paddle tail.
But as soon as it was caught, the scientists were sure theyd seen the animal before. It turns out, they were right.
For the second time since 2010, poor Wilson the manatee found himself snared in a giant net cast by a group of scientists from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, the University of Florida, and Seaworld Orlando.
Wilson was caught in Polecat Bay on Wednesday, about a half mile from where he was caught two years ago in the Spanish River. Since that time, hes migrated back and forth to Floridas Crystal River for the winter each year, and, if appearances can be believed, hes packed on a few pounds.
Working with a spotter plane, the Dauphin Island Sea Labs Mobile Manatee Sighting Network and a team from Seaworld in Orlando captured a total of five manatees last week. The plane counted 10 manatees in a small portion of the lower Mobile-Tensaw Delta Wednesday, and 11 in Dog River. The scientists said there may be as many as 75 swimming in Alabama waters right now.
Two of the five captured last week have been captured in Alabama before. One was a calf of about 600 pounds, described as a teenager by the scientists, meaning two or three years old.
We lucked out this year because we got two animals wed already tagged. So we were able to prove those animals were return visitors to Mobile Bay, said Allen Aven, with the Sea Labs Mobile Manatees Sighting Network. We also definitely saw aggregations of animals that were larger than weve seen before. The group of 11 in Dog River, they were all right next to each other. They typically dont travel that way.
That group, Aven said, was clearly a breeding aggregation. Breeding behavior was observed in Dog River last year as well.
Ruth Carmichael, head of the Manatee Sighting Network, said that the recapture of Wilson offers conclusive proof that Mobile Bay is an important part of the manatees home range.
Were getting animals that arent just showing up here searching for habitat. They are coming back year after year. Theyre mating here, theyre feeding here, Carmichael said. They know whats here. Theyre chosing to come here because they like it here.
Aven said the Delta amounts to a paradise for manatees, with thousands of acres of subaquatic plants for them to munch on. Research he has conducted shows that the manatees eat a lot of unexpected things as well.
Theyve been seen pulling themselves up out of the water to munch on Spartina, the marsh grass, Aven said. And acorns. They get up in the creeks that have overhanging oak trees. Those acorns fall into the water and sink and the manatees gobble them up off the bottom. Apparently they like nuts.
Carmichael said the manatees captured last week were all in good health and well fed. The animals found in Alabama tend to be larger than average, leading scientists from Florida to refer to them as Alabama size, as in, Thats an Alabama size manatee.
The last three years, weve been getting a greater variety of animals in terms of sizes and age, Carmichael said. We seemed to have a higher number of young males. Weve now gotten a couple of older females, older males and mother and calf pairs. The population is more diverse.
Report any manatee sightings to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab by calling 1-866-493-5803 or e-mailing email@example.com. More information, including a map of local sightings, is available at http://manatee.disl.org. The Mobile Manatee Sighting Network is funded largely through donations, which can be made at the organizations web site.
Hugh Manatee?? This is series!
What a total waste of money, playing in boats, harassing sea life so much you are going around capturing them twice!
Is the information so critical right now that we have to spend millions of dollars for it that we have to borrow from the Chinese at interest?!
I think Congress is made up of special needs children.
They’ve even got lookouts...
DISL’s Manatees Sighting Network
Ping! Hugh is back!
I think it’s safe to say that each and every catch has a cost north of $10,000 connected to it.
Too bad we don’t have a curious press anymore.
You got it! This is vey series, hugh manatees can stune your beeber!