EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The manatee that was spotted in a Charlestown pond earlier this month hasn’t been seen for well over a week, which experts believe may be good news.
The manatee was first seen swimming in Quonochontaug Pond on Sept. 11. It then slowly made its way to Narragansett, and was last spotted on Sept. 18 in Warren.
Sarah Callan, manager of the Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program, tells 12 News she saw the manatee during its stop in Narragansett.
“We don’t see manatees often,” Callan said, “It’s more of a rare sighting.”
Callan said the manatee appeared to be completely healthy.
“It was really active, which was surprising to me,” she said.
Manatees generally prefer warmer waters and usually stay near the Florida Peninsula and the Gulf Coast during the winter. Callan believes the gentle giant has begun its journey back home.
“If it did go north from its last sighting, we probably would’ve received additional reports,” Callan explained. “My hope is that it has gone down south.”
Since the ocean is getting warmer, Callan said it’s possible that there may be more manatee sightings in Rhode Island’s future.
Back in 2016, Callan said Mystic Aquarium helped rehabilitate a manatee that was found swimming off Cape Cod.
The manatee’s rehabilitation was a success. Callan said that manatee — which was also pregnant — made history when she was released back into the wild.
“She was tagged and we were able to track her. She went straight to the Bahamas,” Callan said. “She ended up being the first manatee that was ever tracked going to the Bahamas.”
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Manatees have previously been spotted in the Bahamas, but experts weren’t sure which routes the animals took to get there.
The most recent manatee sighting bolstered Mystic Aquarium’s connections with other rescue organizations. Callan said those connections are important, especially if a manatee needs to be rehabilitated in the future.
“We’ve discussed protocols and have kind of a plan in place,” she explained.
Anyone who spots a manatee in Rhode Island should take a photo of the marine mammal from a distance and contact the Mystic Aquarium Animal Rescue Program by calling 860-572-5955 ext. 107.