is hanging out near the Hatteras Inlet ferry docks
According to U.S. Coast Guard records, a
manatee was spotted this morning at 10:05 a.m. at the ferry docks in
While few folks have actually seen the manatee, it is rumored to be
swimming around between the Coast Guard station at Hatteras Inlet,
where it was spotted this morning, and Hatteras Landing.
The manatee, a very large, very gentle ocean mammal is almost
exclusively found in warmer, tropical and sub-tropical waters, but,
according to Lou Browning, a local wildlife rehabilitator. He said it’s
not terribly uncommon to spot them every now and again in Hatteras.
“It’s not that rare that they pass through here,” he said, noting that
for quite some time, there was a manatee that would come and hang out
each year around the southern tip of Hatteras.
Browning said that manatees seem to like the southern end of
Hatteras—in particular, they seem to like the sound between the Coast
Guard station and Lee Robinson General Store—perhaps because of the
warmer water, the topography of the bottom, or the presence of a
certain kind of grass that the herbivorous creatures enjoy.
But, regardless of his (or her) reason for visiting Hatteras, on thing
seems clear—the manatee has picked a rather precarious hide-out.
Boat traffic is always a peril to the manatee. While quite intelligent,
manatees are also extremely curious, and, perhaps most detrimentally,
extremely slow swimmers. The constant ferry traffic, not to
mention the hundreds of other boats that traverse that channel and fish
the sound, could prove very dangerous for the gentle “sea cow.”
And that seems to be the biggest concern for the government entities in
The ferry captains have been instructed to proceed very slowly and very
cautiously in and out of the area, and the boats have lookouts on each
corner, keeping an eye out for the manatee. In addition, the Coast
Guard was planning to issue a marine broadcast later today to alert
boaters to the presence of the manatee and urge them to exercise
caution when going in and out of the docks and when using the channel.
According to Browning, that’s about all we can do to protect the
creature, which is federally protected as an endangered
Because it’s not considered a stranding, it’s not injured or otherwise
in need of care, and it’s certainly not breaking any rules, the only
thing that can be done is to make as many people aware of its presence
as possible and hope that they will be cautious.
For more information on manatees, here’s a good place to start: