Environmental officials reported a “rare sighting” of a manatee in a Rhode Island saltwater pond, marking the sea creature’s first appearance in the region since 2016.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) made this announcement via a social media post. It revealed that the manatee was seen in Quonochontaug Pond, a saltwater location in Charlestown connected to the Atlantic Ocean.
The initial sighting occurred on Monday, prompting ongoing monitoring efforts by DEM officials, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium.
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According to the DEM, manatees typically inhabit Florida and Gulf Coast waters. This happens during the winter but then ventures northward in the summer. These gentle creatures, often nicknamed “sea cows” due to their fondness for seagrass and marine vegetation, share a surprising genetic kinship with elephants, as noted by the DEM.
Manatees are infrequently spotted in the cooler waters of New England, with occasional sightings recorded over the years.
The most recent manatee sighting occurred off Cape Cod in 2016, following a previous sighting in 2006. It’s essential to note that manatees enjoy protection under both the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
For the safety and well-being of the manatee, the DEM urges boaters and swimmers to maintain a distance of at least 150 feet and exercise caution if encountering the marine mammal.
As we celebrate this extraordinary encounter with nature, let us also remember that our actions have a profound impact on the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management calls for boaters and swimmers to maintain a respectful distance from these magnificent creatures. It is a crucial step in ensuring their continued presence in our region. By practicing responsible wildlife interaction, we can coexist harmoniously with the diverse array of life that graces our waters.
In closing, the appearance of a manatee in Rhode Island serves as a poignant reminder of the wonders of our natural world. It is a call to appreciate and protect the fragile beauty that surrounds us. To be vigilant guardians of our environment. May this extraordinary sighting inspire us all to work tirelessly toward the preservation of our oceans and the incredible creatures that call them home.
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