Manatees in Lake Pontchartrain!
"Manatee area . . . proceed with caution."
by Kia Hall Hayes, The Times-Picayune
Thursday July 17, 2008, 9:37 PM
Confirming reports of manatees in and around Lake Pontchartrain, local scientists are spreading the word to boaters who might catch sight of the endangered mammal: Consider yourself lucky, and then leave it alone.
About a dozen sightings have been confirmed near the North Shore in recent weeks, and scientists are urging the public to appreciate the manatees from a distance.
"People like to swim with them, but that makes them not afraid of boats, and then they swim up to them and get hit, " said Fred Stouder, a biologist at Southeastern Louisiana University's Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station in Manchac.
Human interaction is one of the biggest killers of the slow-moving animal, which grows up to 10 or 12 feet and can weigh 350 to 450 pounds.
About 3,100 live in U.S. waters.
Manatees, also known as "sea cows, " make their way over from Florida in the late spring when Louisiana waters have warmed to their liking. Experts say the animals also travel up the east coast and to other Gulf Coast states in search of warm water and vegetation.
Manatees coming to an area near you!
Be careful, these slow moving animals, described by a Wildlife coordinator as 'a very large potato with a flipper on the end of it' are easily hurt by fast-moving boats.
Correction, a reader on my gBlog brought to my attention that some of the above info was wrong.
Florida Wildlife and Fish: The average Florida manatee is about 10 feet long and weighs close to 1,200 pounds. Manatees can reach up to 13 feet in length and weigh 3,500 pounds. Female manatees tend to be larger than the males. Their calves weigh around 66 pounds and are 4 feet long.