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Manatee spotted in local waters

A manatee, a sea mammal more routinely spotted in the waters off Florida and the Caribbean, was recently spotted alive in the York River.

Robert “JJ” Orth, a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, said that he has been at the Gloucester Point campus since 1969 and this is his first local sighting of a manatee. “We were stoked,” Orth said of the VIMS reaction to the late afternoon sighting at the school’s boat basin.

Corey Holbert, a seagrass researcher at VIMS, made the initial discovery. Holbert said he was uncertain what the animal was at first, but realized it was a manatee when he saw its broad, flat tail and distinctive face and snout.

The manatee, which was six to eight feet long, is a rare sight to Chesapeake Bay, outside the summer months. The 65-degree water temperature the day of the sighting was several degrees below the animals’ preferred lower limit of 68 degrees, said VIMS spokesman David Malmquist. ...

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