Keys Manatee Missing Near New York

Officials haven't seen sea cow since Friday

By Brian Hamacher
|  Monday, Oct 19, 2009  |  Updated 2:24 PM EDT
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Weirdest Creatures of the World

The South Florida manatee who made news for his 1,200 mile trip from the Keys to NYC is missing in the waters off New Jersey, and officials are worried he may be in trouble.

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The South Florida manatee who made news for his 1,200 mile trip from the Keys to NYC is missing in the waters off New Jersey, and officials are worried he may be in trouble.

Ilya the manatee was spotted in New York harbor late last week after a month-long trip that began in Key West with stops in Maryland and Massachusetts.

Ilya, who was first tagged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 10 years ago, had found a warm place to stay near a refinery in Linden, N.J., and officials were hoping he'd stay put.

Their plan was to get Ilya out of the frigid Northern waters and transport him back to his home in the Keys. Manatees generally need water temperatures of 68 degrees and above to survive, and the water off New Jersey was in the low 60s last week.

But now, no one has seen Ilya since Friday afternoon. Bob Schoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center says he hopes Ilya is heading south on his own, but he's hoping the sea cow will be spotted again.

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