That was no manatee,it was BAJABOB 38 on VIAGRA.
Was That a Manatee in the Hudson, or Just a ‘Fat Log’?
By COREY KILGANNON
Published: August 8, 2006
CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y., Aug. 7 —
Tom Earle and his son David have not seen it, but they have already named it — Tappie, for its choice of the Tappan Zee section of the Hudson River as a vacation destination.
John Vargo has not seen it, either, but he insists it “has found heaven” in the brackish, fertile section where the Croton River’s fresh water empties into the salty Hudson. Randy Shull, 37, from Ossining, says he swam with it last weekend but just missed taking a picture of it. And the Buck twins, Larry and Don, say they saw a large marine mammal break the surface of the river near the Croton Yacht Club, but was it really a manatee?
Well, was it?
That is what people along the Hudson River were asking each other on Monday, as news reports of manatee sightings began surfacing. The manatee was said to have swum past Manhattan and up the Hudson River, at least several miles north of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Experts say it is very rare, but manatees, which are usually associated with the warm waters of Florida, do occasionally travel as far north as New York. One was even once reported in Rhode Island. If the water is warm enough and the plant life plentiful, an adventurous manatee, which can weigh upward of 1,000 pounds, may just munch its way all the way to the big city.
“You hear about them coming up to Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, but only rarely up to New York,” said Nicole Mihnovets, coordinator for the marine endangered species program run by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
“There’s no reason to doubt the sightings we’re getting,” she said. “They do wander, and apparently this one is interested in checking things out a littler further. The water temperatures are suitable for it, so it just keeps going, feeding off the vegetation.”
Ms. Mihnovets warned: “The manatee is an endangered species, and it is against the law to even get close to it. It could be considered harassment.” She said that the mammal could head back south on its own. “It should be fine if nature takes its course.”
Ian Heller, 15, and Jeff Samalot, 16, said they saw the manatee while in their 17-foot power boat heading from Haverstraw to the Shattemuc Yacht Club in Ossining, where they teach sailing.
“We were just off Croton Point and we saw what looked like a fat log in front of us, but then it rolled and swam away,” Ian said. “I’ve never seen a log do that.”
“It was too big to be a seal, and we kind of dismissed it until we heard later that there’s a manatee around,” Jeff added.
Mr. Shull, 37, from Ossining, said he was swimming off his boat on Sunday, just off Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow, when he saw a look of shock on the face of his wife, Serena, who was standing on board.
“It took her four seconds to say the word ‘manatee,’ ” he said. “I saw it raise its back up and then go down like a whale. It was kind of intimidating. I climbed back on the boat to get my camera phone, but it never fully resurfaced.”
Mr. Earle, 43, of Croton, and David, his 12-year-old son, heard about the manatee sightings Monday morning and were watching for it while sailing in Ossining.
“We think he’s here because the water is fresher this year, compared to last year,” Mr. Earle said. “It’s not as salty, because of the rain.
“They called the Loch Ness monster Nessie, and the manatee that swam up the Chesapeake Chessie, so I’m calling this one Tappie, because it seems to like it around the Tappan Zee area.”
Mr. Vargo, the editor and publisher of Boating on the Hudson & Beyond magazine, insisted that the manatee would stay around Croton Point until water temperatures cooled.
“It has found heaven right there,” he said. “The Croton River empties fresh water into the Hudson there, and you have all kinds of grasses growing on the bottom. It’s the healthiest part of the Hudson.”
At the Croton Yacht Club a week ago Sunday, Joe Consula, 49, and the Buck twins, Larry and Don, 59, saw some kind of large mammal break the glassy surface of the river about 20 feet from shore and then submerge and continue quickly upriver. They don’t agree on what it was.
“I just don’t think it could be a manatee. If anything, I’d say it was a seal,” Larry Buck said.
“Well, it was blackish, grayish brown,” Mr. Consula countered. “It was too big to be a seal.”
“Well, it had to be,” Larry Buck said.
“Nah, I saw its face and it’s much bigger than that. I’m going with manatee,” Mr. Consula said.
“Well, I’m going with seal,” Larry Buck said. “Manatee’s too far-fetched for me.”
“Did I see it too, Larry?” asked Don Buck, who says he recently began losing his short-term memory.
“You did, Don, trust me,” his brother assured.
Mr. Consula said: “It could have been a sturgeon. We get them up to 600 pounds around here. It could be a small pilot whale for all we know. But no, this looked prehistoric and had barnacles. I didn’t say nothing because I didn’t want people to think I was crazy.”
That was no manatee,it was BAJABOB 38 on VIAGRA.
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