Wildlife Officials Confirm Manatee Sighting in Cape Waters

CHATHAM – There’s a rare visitor to local waters.

A manatee was spotted over the weekend off Oyster Pond in Chatham and last week off Dowses Beach in Osterville. The sightings were confirmed by officials with the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

There was an unconfirmed sighting of the manatee off Nantucket last week.

Former Harwich Harbormaster Tom Leach posted dozens of photos of the manatee on his Facebook page, swimming in Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich Port.

Manatees in local waters are a rare occurrence, since waters this far north are generally too cold for the warm-blooded animals. Most manatees spend their time off of Florida.

IFAW teams are monitoring the animal to see if it will head south on its own or whether it will need a rescue.

“We’re hoping, best case, that this animal starts to head south on its own and make its way back to warmer water in good time,” said Jane Hoppe, the Assistant Stranding Coordinator for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “But if it does stay in the area and water temperatures start to change there are a number of options, which of which could potentially be a capture.”

Mariners are asked to use caution if they spot the animal. Anyone who sees the manatee should call IFAW’s hotline at 508-743-9548.

“They are very large, slow-moving animals, so one of our concerns for these guys is certainly boat strikes or vessel strikes,” Hoppe said. “They tend to stay at the water surface and move very slowly.”

This marks the third manatee sighting off the Cape since 2008.

In October 2008, a manatee named “Dennis” was pulled from Sesuit Harbor after spending two days there. Officials tried to truck the animal to SeaWorld in Florida, but it died shortly before arriving.

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