A manatee carcass was discovered last week at Assateague Island National Seashore near the Maryland-Virginia border and is currently undergoing examination to determine the cause of death.
The National Park Service called the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to report the carcass on Oct. 27, but due to extremely high tides it washed out to sea before the department could retrieve it.
On Oct. 29, park staffers located the carcass approximately one-half mile from its initial location. Department personnel responded and transported the animal to the Smithsonian Institution for a necropsy exam. The manatee’s skeletal remains will be accessioned into the Smithsonian collection.
Although it is not uncommon for manatees to visit the Chesapeake Bay in the summer, they usually head back south when temperatures cool. This is only the second dead manatee documented in Maryland (the first was in April 2010) and the first along the Atlantic Coast. The circumstances surrounding this stranding and death are not known.
Maryland’s Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program has been responding to stranded marine animals for more than 20 years. The department works with the Marine Animal Rescue Program at the National Aquarium as well as numerous other organizations throughout the state to aid in the recovery of, and response to, stranded marine animals.
The department asks anyone who sees a dead, visibly injured, entangled or stranded sea animal to call 1-800-628-9944 immediately. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.