It sure looks like a few manatees other than myself, enjoy going out on adventures! Cpl. Matt Farner, in charge of the Lake County sheriff’s marine-patrol unit has been on the Harris Chain of Lakes in roles of a deputy, a fisherman, and a boater. The Harris Chain of Lakes is located northwest of Orlando, Florida.
In all of his 30 years on the water there Mr. Farner explained, “I said to myself: ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’” Guess what he was looking at? A manatee! Yes, there have been at least two manatees seen in Lake Griffin, Lake Harris and Little Lake Harris. Now here’s where it gets interesting…
…Manatees were never seen in these lakes before. They are seen much farther east in the St. Johns River. So the question becomes, how did manatees make it westbound from the St. Johns River to the Harris Chain of Lakes?
The folks at the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission [FWC] explained they most likely “swam upstream – or south – along the Ocklawaha River from the St. Johns River and eventually made their way into Lake Griffin, which is connected to Lake Harris by canals.” That ends up being a distance of 80 miles. These adventurous manatees had to navigate their way through three locks and dams, which control the water levels!
Tom Reinert, a marine biologist with the FWC explains, “We’ve never had reports of them being this far south or this far upstream in the Harris Chain. Manatees like to swim around, and they’re curious creatures. So they’re probably just cruising and looking for food.”
Florida Manatees (that’s me!) are a subspecies of the West Indian manatee. We’re currently listed as “endangered” and are at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and death. Our exposure to cold stress, red tide, and other diseases are the natural challenges we face each day. The man-made issues facing us are; boat strikes, flood gates (or locks) and also getting caught and tangled up in fishing gear.
If you see any sick or injured manatees, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida.
Here is a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation…
Here’s another awesome link to learn more about manatees…
~ Kobee Manatee