Rare sighting of a manatee in the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal has state officials warning boaters to stay a safe distance from the endangered animal.
The manatee was spotted in the C&D Canal Thursday afternoon. While not unheard of, it is certainly rare for manatees to travel as far north as Delaware. According to SavetheManatee.org, North Carolina is generally considered the northern limit of the habitat range for manatees.
“The thing was huge,” said Patty Anderson who took pictures of the manatee near Summit North Marina along the canal. “It was an experience that was really wild. I’ve never had something like that happen before.” She said the manatee swam from the canal into the marina’s boat basin near the fueling dock before disappearing below the surface.
Delaware Fish and Wildlife Police Cpl. John McDerby warned boaters “to maintain proper lookout and be cautions in their navigation.” MCDerby said propeller strikes are the main cause of manatee deaths in their native Florida.
Manatees are protected as an endangered species under both the Federal Endangered Species Act and the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Both laws make it illegal to harm, harass, injure or kill manatees.
Anyone who sees the manatee or any others that may have traveled with it to Delaware waters should divert their watercraft away from the animals.