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Tennessee Manatee

November 2006

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.

Since 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. 


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Related Manatee Links & Resources:
Florida Manatee Yearly Mortality Summary - 1974 - 2006
Florida Manatee Mortality - 2005
Florida Manatee Deaths - 2006
Manatee Sighted, Filmed in Cove Harbor, Texas


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