Not Just for Kids

Manatees, Oh Manatees!

by Georgia Knoll

I have liked manatees since I was about 8. I don't really remember how I came to appreciate manatees, but I do know that they quickly became my favorite animal. For those of you who don't know much about manatees, allow me to fill you in.

Manatees are mostly nocturnal. They spend most of their time eating water plants, consuming about 60 to 100 pounds per day. The manatees propel themselves through the water with their tail and front flippers.

Sadly, manatees are on the endangered species list, mainly because manatees expose their back while they swim. Often powerboats run over them, leaving them with severe or moderate injuries. This is why areas of Florida's coast (which is primarily where manatees live) have posted signs excluding powerboats.

So, as you can see, people are taking action to save the manatee, but they need your help too!

You can find out how to help by contacting Save the Manatees Club @ 500 N. Maitland Ave. Maitland, FLA 32751 or on the Web at

Drawings by Georgia Knoll

Chessie the Bay-Loving Manatee

Manatees come in two sorts, it seems: those who stay at home and those who like to roam. Most manatees think there's no better place to paddle than their own backyards - the warm waters of Florida. Some manatees, though, are more adventurous.

Four years ago, one of those adventurous manatees surprised boaters and bathers alike by unexpectedly appearing in the Chesapeake Bay.

By this time back then, scientists were worried that the fall Bay was too cold for a manatee. They were afraid the animal might get sick or even die if it stayed too long. Even worse, because manatees paddle along just beneath the surface, they can be hurt or killed by boat propellers. Everyone knew something had to be done - fast.

So they planned to rescue 'Chessie,' the Bay's manatee.

But Chessie wasn't ready to be rescued. For almost two weeks, he led rescuers on a chase around the Bay. Finally, the rescuers caught up with Chessie. After making sure he wasn't sick, they carried him in a special tank back to Florida, where he was set free. Scientists also put a radio transmitter on Chessie's tail, so they could track him by satellite if he ever decided to roam again.

You can guess what happened. Early next summer, scientists picked up Chessie's transmitter on their computer screens. Chessie was paddling north again! The adventurous manatee was swimming an amazing 28 miles a day. Three weeks later, he arrived in the Chesapeake Bay.

Why does Chessie visit the Bay? We're not sure exactly. Most manatees hate cold water, but for some reason Chessie prefers a cool dip rather than a warm bath. Or maybe he likes the taste of the Bay's underwater grasses.

Whatever the reason, Chessie is sure to roam our way again. Keep watching for him! He's 10-feet long, gray, weighs 1500 pounds, loves to eat water plants and is extremely gentle.

-Don Kehne

Kids' Calendar

Classic Campfire Sat. Oct. 10 (7-9:30pm)-Sing a few songs and roast some marshmallows over a campfire as you learn about Native Americans at Watkins Regional Park, Upper Marlboro. $2 w/discounts: 301/249-6202.

Worldly Fun Wed. Oct. 14 (10am)-Travel the world w/out the trip as Debbie Woods from the Chesapeake Children's Museum leads a morning of international stories, music & crafts. Barnes & Noble, Annapolis Harbour Center: 410/573-1115.

Gild Halloween Gear Oct. 15 & 16 (4:30-5:30pm)-Ages 5-10 get ready for Halloween by decorating your own pumpkin and canvas trick or treat bag. Sign up 1 week in advance. Saint Mary's St. Rec Center, Annapolis. $20, rsvp: 410/263-7958.

Be a Planet Protector Enter by Oct. 15-Win a spot among Stonyfield Farm Yogurt's Planet Protectors - kids who work to save the environment. Age groups under 8, 8-11 & 12-14 write in to tell the Farm what they're doing to help protect the planet; winners are chosen for the most unique, most widely useful and most effective actions. Everybody wins something; grand prize winners take a trip w/Chris & Martin from Kratts' Creatures to a zoo, science center or national park: 800/pro-cows.

Aw, Nuts Oct. 17 & 20 (10:30am)-Kids ages 2-3 learn about squirrels' hording habit. Look on as Battle Creek Cypress Swamp's resident puppet squirrel tries to get his friends to help stash away nuts for the winter. Port Republic. Free, rsvp: 410/535-5327.

Cuddly Corn Sat. Oct. 17 (11am)-Making dolls from the harvest is something people all over Earth do; now you can too. Learn the traditions behind them as you create Colonial American corn husk dolls. Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Port Republic. $10,

Kids' Play Sat. Oct. 17 (11:30am)-Aesop's Fables come to life onstage in Chesapeake Music Hall's series of plays for kids. Hot dog, PBJ & ice cream for lunch. 339 Busch's Frontage Rd., Annapolis. $8.95: 800/406-0306.

And the Rap Winner is Sat. Oct. 17 (call for time)-See who wins the Banneker-Douglass Museum's rap contest, for which kids ages 10-16 taped and sent 3-minute raps on famous African Americans or events in black history. The winner walks away w/a $75 prize. Banneker-Douglass Museum, Annapolis: 410/974-2893.

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VolumeVI Number 40
October 8-14, 1998
New Bay Times