Sea cow makes rare appearance in Mississippi waters

Sea cow makes rare appearance in Mississippi waters

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Usually workers with the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) have to travel miles to pick up a stranded, threatened or deceased marine animal, but Friday IMMS teams didn't have to go far. That's because they stumbled upon a sea cow in their own backyard.

Unfortunately it was found too late, the manatee was dead. According to officials, the unusual finding leaves some unanswered questions.
During the morning hours right behind the IMMS in Gulfport, an animal not commonly seen in South Mississippi was found washed ashore in the Industrial Canal.

"We had an unusual event. We had a manatee, which is unusual to be seen in these areas was found dead in the Industrial Seaway," said IMMS President Moby Solangi.

These are the images of the 1,000 pound, adult female right as she was pulled by a forklift from the canal.

"It looks like the animal was dead for the past few days. And because of the cold weather the body hadn't deteriorated that bad.
We've sent the carcass to Alabama, where they'll do the necropsy," said Solangi.

Dr. Solangi captured video of the manatee lifted in the air by a forklift just moments before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service picked it up. Now the questions remain, why did the sea cow end up here and how did it die?

"This is too cold a weather for the manatee, but apparently they follow the warm discharge from the power plant.
I think it will probably be the cause that might have killed the animal, but most probably it was cold related," he explained.

Still, nothing is for sure until the necropsy is complete. While Dr. Solangi's team wasn't able to save the large animal, they will be able to learn soon what caused its death. Information that is vital in learning more about preserving other marine life.

"I think our teams efforts are important because we help determine what maybe going on in the environment.
These are sentinel species. These are top of the food chain and whatever happens to them ultimately happens to us," Solangi warned.

The Alabama Stranding Network will conduct the necropsy.

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