Marine Most Wanted: Middle Branch Manatee

If there is a manatee swimming in the Middle Branch of the Upper Patapsco, it must be cold.

The sub-tropical marine mammal was reported in mid-October. Since then, nothing — despite a plea to boaters for updates.

“With this one we haven’t been able to confirm an actual sighting ourselves with photographic evidence,” says Baltimore National Aquarium’s media/public relations director Jen Bloomer.

This could be good news: The wayward swimmer could have fled the cold waters for a more hospitable southern environment. It could also mean a bleaker fate for the gentle giant, whose system cannot tolerate our winter water temperatures.

There’s always the possibility that the manatee was nothing more than a bundle of debris or another large marine animal.

For now, the aquarium is not taking any chances, sending National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program coordinator Jen Dittmar on an aerial spotting trip.

“So far,” says Bloomer, “we haven’t found anything.” But without a dorsal fin or colorful markings, a manatee in dark river water is akin to a needle in a haystack.

See a manatee or any other stranded animal? Call in its location and send photos: 410-373-0083; [email protected]