Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A favorite visitor to the Chesapeake Bay is apparently alive and well and is being tracked by the National Aquarium.
Alex DeMetrick tells us about the return of Chessie.
Chessie’s a manatee. He may be slow and a long way from home, but he definitely has a thing for the bay.
As marine mammals go, manatees don’t get around all that much. Most stay in the warmer waters of Florida, although one does tend to wander.
“It’s great to see Chessie, who we haven’t seen in 10 years, is alive and well and that’s very exciting for us,” said Jennifer Bloomer, National Aquarium spokesperson.
A photo obtained by WJZ’s media partner, the Baltimore Sun, caught Chessie in a marina in Calvert County.
They know it’s him because “he has very distinctive markings, scars on his body,” said Bloomer. “The USGS biologists down in Florida keep records of all the manatees.”
Chessie was first spotted in the bay in 1994. Because Chessie was in the Chester River with cold water coming, the National Aquarium organized a rescue. It was feared the manatee would not make it back to warmer water before winter.
“At that time, we did intervene and we were able to collect him,” Bloomer said. “He came and stayed here at the aquarium for a few days before he was successfully flown back to Florida.”
Because manatees swim slowly, boats pose the greatest threat. So the aquarium is alerting marinas because it’s a big bay, and Chessie could be anywhere.
The aquarium is not planning on another capture and free flight home—at least not yet.
But they are asking people who spot the manatee to call in, so they can track his movements.
The last time Chessie entered the bay was 2001 when he cruised Virginia waters.