Manatee dies en route to Sea World

Nicole Muller

The juvenile male manatee that drew excited crowds and official concern at Sesuit Harbor in East Dennis over the past week has died. Fondly dubbed “Dennis” by locals, the 1,000-pound manatee expired shortly after noon Sunday, just an hour short of reaching SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

The manatee, which was first spotted swimming in Sesuit Harbor Oct. 1, reappeared last Tuesday swimming near the harbor’s docks.

Harbormaster Terry Clen said the manatee, which had lost an eye, was believed drawn to the warmer waters near shore.

Fully aquatic marine mammals, manatees typically inhabit warm, shallow estuaries. They cannot survive in temperatures below 60 degrees.

“IFAW [International Fund for Animal Welfare] people were tracking the manatee, hoping it would return to warmer waters on its own,” said SeaWorld spokesperson Lauren Skowyra. “They called us in on Thursday, and we flew a four-person rescue team up to Cape Cod on Friday.”

The rescue team monitored the manatee in an 18-foot moving van during the 20-hour drive south. Despite the team’s best efforts, the manatee “quietly stopped breathing" just an hour before reaching SeaWorld.

“A full necropsy is being conducted later this week to determine cause of death,” Skowyra said.

IFAW officials could not be reached for comment on Monday.

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