NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — People who work in the Newport News Seafood Industrial Park near the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel are used to seeing a bunch of sea critters, but got a special surprise on Friday.
A manatee was spotted Friday morning swimming inside the harbor. WAVY viewer Tony Bates with Red Line Dyno sent in a couple of videos.
The Newport News Seafood Industrial Park said the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response team was called to make sure the manatee wasn’t hurt and to see if it needed to be herded out of the area.
While manatees are typically found in warmer waters such as Florida’s, they do sometimes move up the East Coast. Many in Florida have been facing starvation due to pollution and ecosystem collapse, with the state reporting a record number of manatee deaths in 2021 — more than 1,000, 10% of the state’s population, died last year.
According to Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Senior Scientist Alexander Costidis, they say they currently have no reason to believe the manatee is distressed.
At this time, only one manatee has been reported.
“Manatees are now regular visitors to the mid-Atlantic,” said Costidis. “Every summer, we get several sightings and in the last 4 years, we had our first 2 deceased manatees.”