Memphis, Tennessee - On October 23rd 2006 an unusual report came
into the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
It seems a manatee made it's way more
than 700 miles up the Mississippi River and into Wolf River Harbor just
north of downtown Memphis.
Over the next couple of days the manatee attracted numerous onlookers as
well as protection by the TWRA and the U.S. Coast Guard. The water
temperature in the harbor was about 65 degrees. This was a major concern in
regards to the animals health since manatees cannot tolerate temperatures
much cooler than 68 degrees for extended periods of time. Water
temperatures in the river were a couple of degrees cooler.
the TWRA has very limited experience with manatees the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service was contacted and organized a team to capture the animal
and return it to warmer waters. However, by the time the team was organized
and onsite, the manatee could not be found.
On December 11th a manatees
body was discovered a few miles south on the shore of Lake McKellar. A
necropsy was preformed, but the remains were to decomposed to determine the
cause of death. Hypothermia is the suspected to be at least a contributing
factor, but it will probably never be known for sure.
Although this is Tennessee's first known manatee visit, other sightings
in not so usual places have occurred recently. The second strangest being
Hudson Valley, New York in August of 2006. Numerous manatees have also been
spotted off the coast of Texas.