After I encountered the Manatee and its calf, I learned the mother's name is Rita. She was born in the coastal waters of Florida and was identified as female manatee MI028 by the US Geological Survey. Manatees have distinct scars on their backs and fins due to their collisions with powerboats, so they are supposed to be easily identifiable. The calf I saw with Rita is apparently her seventh or eighth.
On October 11, 2011, Rita and her calf, now known as Georgie, were seen in Nassau Harbour, some 48-miles away from Spanish Wells. They were identified properly by the Marine Mammal Response Team from Atlantis. By the 15th of October, the Atlantis Team has successfully secured Rita and Georgie in an observation tank at the Resort. After contacting the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency sent over experts to help Atlantis with testing for viruses, health, as well as discussing the best option for returning the mother and calf to the wild.
The US ultimately made the decision to return Rita to Floridian waters, on the basis that she was born in the United States and therefore their property. It's an interesting concept, as a Canadian, do we claim any Canadian geese that migrate ours? No. Manatees are naturally a migratory species, and the healthy mother and calf are the only known in The Bahamas. Although, The Bahamas also protects manatee (like the US) under The Marine Mammal Protection Act, that places these animals at a high priority for their safety; the main concern of getting them out of busy Nassau Harbour.
Do we, as humans have the right to claim ownership over wild animals? Especially endangered ones. Florida is estimated to have a manatee population around 3,300, and there is a lot of boat traffic...Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, the Exumas, Abaco, Andros, or any of the Out Islands, seem in my opinion to be the safest habitats for these manatee. Perhaps they migrated to The Bahamas for the sole reason that freshwater was easily accessible without the concern of boat traffic? Who knows.
What do you think?