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Spot a manatee? Experts say keep your distance

Posted at 5:29 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 19:53:23-04

PORT ARANSAS, Texas — A video of some Port Aransas residents giving fresh water to a manatee is prompting officials to advise against this seemingly harmless action.

Manatee sightings are rare in the Coastal Bend. Experts say it only happens every other year or so.

So what are the proper steps to take if you are lucky enough to spot a manatee? Let’s take a look.

While it may seem like you are doing the manatee a favor by giving it water, experts say you are actually breaking the law.

“It’s kind of a misconception that folks should provide fresh water from a water hose to a manatee. Not only is it illegal but it can be harmful and disrupt their natural behaviors,” says Heidi Whitehead, executive director for the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Giving the manatee fresh water may prevent it from heading back to Florida for the winter. Our Texas waters are a bit colder than Florida’s and can cause stress for the animals.

Marine experts say that it is perfectly fine to enjoy the creature from a distance and grab some pictures. This can even help them identify the manatee.

If you do happen to see a manatee yourself, you can report your sighting to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-800-9MAMMAL.