(WPRI) – A manatee spotted last month in Rhode Island waters has been found dead offshore, according to Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium.

“We are so saddened by it,” Sara Callan, manager of Mystic’s animal rescue program, told Nexstar’s WPRI.

Manatees are rarely seen as far north as New England. The West Indian manatee species — which “cannot tolerate temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — is generally found off the Florida coast and in the Caribbean.

The manatee seen in Rhode Island was first spotted swimming in Quonochontaug Pond on Sept. 11 before slowly making its way toward Narragansett. It was last spotted alive on Sept. 18 in Warren.

Callan saw the manatee when it was in Narragansett.

“It did seem, overall, like the animal was in pretty decent shape and was exhibiting normal behaviors,” she said.

The manatee that was spotted in Rhode Island waters last month has been found dead. (Courtesy: Mystic Aquarium)

The aquarium had been working to put a rescue plan in place, if the animal were to be spotted again.

“We had everything lined up that we needed to for this manatee to come in for rehabilitation, even the food source,” Callan explained. “There were a couple local supermarkets that were willing to donate lettuce.”

The animal’s death was ultimately confirmed by a boater in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay who took photos of the body somewhere between Prudence and Hog islands.

Callan said the animal had likely been dead for several days. The cause of its death may never be known due to the condition of the body.

“I think that anything is really possible,” she said. “It’s hard to say, with the state that it’s in now, what could have happened, but I think pretty much anything is on the table.”

When asked how they could identify whether the manatee was the same one that was previously seen, Callan said she would be shocked if there was another in the same area.

“I’m 99.9% sure it’s the same one,” Callan said. “Scientifically speaking, we always like to confirm the [identity] but it’s too decomposed and I haven’t had great photos of the paddle. There was a scar on there we’re using to ID that manatee.”

A manatee sighting had not been reported this far north since 2010, Callan told the Associated Press. Butt thanks to this latest visitor, the aquarium will be ready if another is seen in the area. In such an event, Callan stressed the importance of using the aquarium’s rescue hotline.

“If people do see a manatee, or even any animal that they have concerns about, give our hotline a call as soon as you can so we can really act on these cases immediately,” she advised.

The aquarium doesn’t know where the carcass is now, but they hope to collect samples if it’s seen again.

“I do think we’d still be able to get some information on gender and the age of the animal potentially. Those genetic samples will be really helpful,” Callan added.