A fisherman snapped a picture of a manatee in the Delaware River near Bordentown, New Jersey, the first sighting of such a creature in the state since 2009.
The fisherman spotted the 7-foot longmarine herbivore in the Bordentown Marina on Tuesday.
Bob Considine, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protectionsaid wildlife officers confirmed the sightings through pictures. They did search for the animal, but were unable to find it.
Manatees are sometimes called sea cows, and whilethey tend to prefer the warmer waters of Florida, theycan be fairly common off the coasts of North Carolinaand South Carolina during warmer months.
Sightings farther north are much rarer, but there have been a spate of them in recent weeks.
The Save the Manatee Club reports that a manatee was sighted in the ChesapeakeBay last week. They are examining photos to see if that manatee is "Chessie," who visited the bay in 1994 and again in 2011.
NPR reports that officials are investigating whether the manatee spotted in the Chesapeake is the same one seen swimming in a canal in Delawarethat connects the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. The Delaware River flows into the Delaware Bay.
In October2009, a manatee called Ilya was spotted by a refinery worker off of the ConocoPhilips Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey. Manatees need water temperatures above 68-degrees to survive, a requirement not met in North Jersey in October. She was likely keeping herself warm by staying near a refinery outflow pipe, where the water was about 75.
In 2008, a manateenamed Dennis made it to Cape Cod. He was rescued in October of that year, but died en route to Sea World in Orlando.
Pat Rose, executive director of Save the Manatees,urged boaters to be on the lookout for the New Jersey manatee -- nearly every manatee has scars from boat propellers. Those scars, Rose said, are how researchers identify individual manatees like Ilya and Chessie.
The big thing is to have people looking out," Rose said."They are an endangered species. They are doing better in terms of what their historical lows are, but every single manatee is important."