VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A manatee swimming in Little Neck Creek stopped for a drink of water from a boat being washed off near the Oceanfront on Tuesday.
TJ Browning with Bay Venture Boat Rentals on Laskin Road says they were flushing their boat engines of saltwater when they spotted the animal.
The manatee appeared to pop up for a drink off the runoff hose.
Browning says he had never seen a manatee that far inland before and contacted the Virginia Aquarium immediately.
Dr. Alexander Costidis, Stranding Response Program Coordinator at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, says manatees are not uncommon in Virginia Beach during the summer.
The Aquarium team typically receives reports of one to two sightings per year.
Costidis says those sightings vary in location — from near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Rudee Inlet.
Manatees are adept to navigating shallow streams and narrow creeks, so it’s not unusual to see one that far inland, says Costidis.
The concern with this behavior, though, are the manatee and vessel interactions, since it is the leading cause of human-related manatee deaths.
Costidis pointed out this manatee in particular has evidence of several, healed propeller wounds.
The Aquarium has sent the photos and video to their partners in Florida to see if this manatee has any documented history since its scars are so distinctive.
He says for the safety of the manatees, boaters should refrain from letting them drink the runoff so they aren’t encouraged to get closer to boats.
If you see a stranded marine mammal or sea turtle, call the Aquarium’s 24-hour Stranding Hotline at (757) 385-7575.