Sunday, April 01, 2012

What Do We Do Now?

Stuart Florida
N 27 12.86 W 080 15.46

Things have been chaotic around here this morning. We don't know what to do next. Here's the story.

Around 7:30 this morning we heard a noise and looked outside. There was a baby manatee in our dinghy? What the heck? I called Libby up on deck. As we were looking, the reason for this unprecedented occurrence became clear. A big hungry alligator, maybe 12 feet long, was circling around and trying to grab the baby. We think the baby jumped into the boat to escape. There's also blood in the dinghy.

OMG!!! We had to think quick. What to do? We thought about trying to lift the baby up onto Tarwathie. Nah. Too heavy. Even a baby manatee weighs several hundred pounds. We could hoist it up with a block and tackle, but without a proper harness we would injure the baby.

As we watched, the baby seemed to become more distressed. It made crying noises. We theorized that it was drying out in the sun and maybe dying. Quick, we grabbed our buckets and started pouring bucket after bucket of water into the dinghy. Soon we had it swamped. The dinghy's gunwales were under water, so fresh salt water could circulate and keep the baby healthy. The dingy didn't capsize because we had it tied up. That way it formed a protective cage, keeping the gator away from the baby, but the gator could easily tip it over.

But we still have no real solution to the problem. We called animal rescue at FWC, the Florida Wildlife Commission. Their answering machine said 8-5 Monday-Friday. No help. We called the US Coast Guard. They won't help either unless it is a person in danger.

The alligator hadn't gone away. It swam around and every once in a while it poked the dinghy with its nose. He must be desperately hungry. The alligator also gave its throaty roaring sound, perhaps to frighten the baby manatee. The baby's mother was nowhere in sight.

Now, we have more help. We got on the VHF radio and announced the predicament to the whole harbor here in Stuart. Soon a half dozen others came in their dinghies to help. Right now they are circling Tarwathie and slapping their oars on the surface, trying to keep the gator away. I'm worried about the boaters in the inflatable dinghies. One gator bite and they sink, dumping the people in the water.

As captain of this vessel, I decided that the best thing for me to do is to go below to write a blog post. If you have a constructive suggestion, please post it as a comment immediately. We may not have time to reply, but we'll read the comments in real time as they come.



  1. try-Patti Thompson, Save the Manatee Club
    Phone: 407-539-0990


  3. Is it April Fools Day? You do have me wondering?


  4. I tend to agree with Loren..


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