Visitors to the boat docks that border Hatteras
Landing got an unexpected surprise on Friday afternoon, July 22, when a
visiting manatee which had been rumored to be hanging around the area
made an appearance.
The manatee was first spotted on Tuesday, July
19, and made intermittent appearances around the soundside of Hatteras
village on the days that followed. However, many visitors and locals
who frequent Hatteras Landing attest that its Friday afternoon visit,
which corresponded with the afternoon return of several charter boats,
was the most impressive.
Measuring roughly 8 to10 feet long, according to
several reports and videos that were posted to social media by local
charter fishing businesses, the manatee made a slow cruise through the
harbor before pausing to soak up a little cold water from a nearby hose.
According to several folks at the docks, the
manatee seemed to love the freshwater hose, and turned over on its
belly for a little while as the water poured down. The incident was
caught on video by Just Enough Sportfishing and was posted to Facebook.
As of Monday morning, it has been shared 267 times and counting.
Though Friday afternoon was the most impressive
appearance, several folks at Hatteras Landing said that they had seen
or heard about the manatee still hanging around in the days that
“The guy [in the boat slip] next to me has lights
on the bottom of his boat, and he says he’s seen it almost every night
under his boat,” said one Hatteras Landing mariner.
Glenn Stultz of Twisted Tuna Sportfishing
Charters also posted a video of the manatee on Facebook from its
Tuesday appearance, and had noticed the visitor several times during
“She was there on Tuesday and then on Friday she
came back again,” said Stultz. “The last time I saw one at Hatteras
Landing was about three years ago.
“I was at lunch and was walking back to the boat
when I saw her. She was by the boat eating some grass and then worked
her way back to the Harbor," he said.
“There were a lot of people down there, and when
you sprayed water on her, she drank it up,” he added. “She would lay on
her back, and when she stopped [getting water from the hose], she would
look up like ‘Why did you stop?'”
As of Sunday afternoon, the manatee appeared to have left the area.
“It stopped by Hatteras Harbor [Marina], and last I heard it had gone to Oregon Inlet,” said Stultz.
In fact, reports and videos started pouring in on
Sunday afternoon of what could possibly be the same manatee surprising
a few anglers along the catwalk off of the Bonner Bridge -- although it
could also be an entirely different manatee paying a separate visit.
And while seeing a manatee so close to Hatteras
Island is pretty rare, it would not outside the realm of possibility
for a manatee or two to show up again in the days or even weeks to
“We haven’t had many manatee sightings,” says
Paul Doshkov, a biological science technician for the National Park
Service. “But it’s not unusual because they seem to prefer those
estuary habitats, and during the summer months, will make their way
along the coast while going in and out of the inlets.”
“As long as you have these warm water
temperatures, it’s not that unusual to see them,” he adds. “They’re
seen somewhere along the Outer Banks every summer – usually around the
piers – but they also like those inlets. They love all the vegetation
And as for this particular manatee’s love of the
water hose on Friday afternoon, Doshkov says this reaction was most
likely a learned behavior.
“[It] might have learned this behavior from its
southern grounds in Florida. They’ll hang around the culverts, which
deposit water into estuaries. There’s a heavy flow of current there,
and they can hang around there and forage… so [it] may be associating
the hose with that.”
And while it’s fine to take photos and videos,
Doshkov cautions against too much interaction. “Absolutely give it
plenty of space and try not to interact with it,” he says. “Don’t try
to feed them or touch them.”
So with plenty of warm temperatures and warm
waters in the immediate forecast, visitors throughout the Outer Banks
will want to keep their eyes peeled – while keeping a distance -- just
in case a visiting manatee once again resurfaces.