The salty waters surrounding South Padre Island are home to various marine wildlife, but some islanders were in for a surprise on a recent afternoon when a manatee made an appearance at a local boat dock on the northwest side of the Island, according to Parrot Eyes Water Sports employee Ryan Fuentes.
Fuentes, originally from Miami, is familiar with manatees from his native state but said he hadn’t see one in about nine years. Fuentes said the manatee swam under the pier in search of fresh water to drink.
Fuentes was able to document the encounter by recording a video with his iPhone. The manatee reportedly appeared to be in good health and didn’t have any cuts or injuries.
Tony Reisinger, the Cameron County extension agent for coastal and marine resources with Texas Sea Grant at Texas A&M University, has lived in the area for 32 years and has only heard of a handful of reported manatee sightings here.
Resinger noted that manatees are endangered and are protected by the Marine Mammal and the Endangered Species Acts.
According to Reisinger, manatees can weigh as much as a ton to a ton and a half, but the one spotted near the South Padre Island appeared smaller from the pictures.
Reisinger said the reason for the sighting is unknown but may have occurred for different reasons such as migration, mating or grazing on the lush sea grass meadows common in the Laguna Madre.
Christina R. Garza