Manatee makes rare visit to marina in Port Aransas
It’s not surprising to see manatees off Florida, but they’re unusual in the Texas part of the Gulf coast.
The manatee was spotted Monday, July 1, at Teal Harbor, a condominium at the Dennis Dreyer Municipal Marina in Port Aransas.
“It swam up and pretty much hung out a couple hours,” said Kevin Deerman, a boat captain who saw the manatee.
“I was pretty impressed. I’ve seen them in Florida a lot, but never saw one in Texas, ever,” said Deerman, who has been a boat captain in Texas waters for 26 years.
Technically, the animal seen in Port Aransas is a West Indian manatee, according to Tony Amos, a research fellow with the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Amos shot video of the manatee as it drank from the hose. (Check out part of the video on the South Jetty’s Web site, www.portasouthjetty.com.)
Amos said the manatee that visited Port Aransas also recently was seen near the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay in Corpus Christi.
The animal was about 10 feet long and appeared to weigh perhaps 1,000 pounds, Amos said.
A few other wayward manatees have been seen in Coastal Bend waters in past years. At least two were reported during the winter of 2010-11. Sightings were reported around the North Padre Island canals, Goose Island State Park and Copano Bay. One washed up dead, near Fulton Beach Road, in the Rockport area.
Manatees are federally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Amos said people shouldn’t touch manatees or get in the water with them, because it could be interpreted as harassing them, a violation of the law.
There’s another reason for not jumping in the water and getting too close to a manatee, Amos said. It could be dangerous.
“They are powerful animals,” he said. “Although they are sluggish and look tranquil, if you try and touch one or grab one, they will thrash around, and you will suddenly realize what big, powerful, heavy animals they are.”
Amos said he’d like to get a call from anyone who sees a manatee in local waters. He can be reached on his cell phone at (361) 442-7638.