August 7, 2006

Florida manatee takes rare New York tour

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers are known to head south to
vacation, but at least one Floridian had an urge to come north
to see the big city.

Marine preservationists said a manatee had swam up the
Hudson River past Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood and then 100
miles upstate. It was the first confirmed sighting of the
mammal in New York in 10 years.

The manatee was filmed by boaters late last month in New
Jersey and Delaware and has since been spotted by at least five
different outdoorsmen up the Hudson, said Julika Wocial, a
supervisor in the rescue program at the Riverhead Foundation
for Marine Research and Preservation.

Manatees, also known as sea cows, can travel as much as 50
miles a day but are also known to laze about. "Some of the
people that saw it described what's known as 'logging', or
raising its big back up and swimming extremely slowly," said
Wocial. The mammals live in both salt and fresh water.

Environmentalists and some biologists have said animals
such as salmon, locusts and warblers have extended their ranges
north as climate change makes the world warmer.

But experts said it is hard to draw any conclusions about
this species from only one manatee swimming north even though
ocean temperatures in the Northeast hit record highs last
August. "It's impossible to tell," said Wocial. "They are known
to take trips in the summertime."

Manatees mostly live in Florida waters and are rarely seen
off the Carolinas. Nicole Adimey, a biologist at U.S. Fish and
Wildlife in Florida said the manatee seems healthy and the
government will not make any attempt to capture it unless it
stays in New York till fall, when the Hudson would be too cold
for it to survive.