A friendly pair of manatees stopped for a visit with local Coast Guard crews Saturday.
“The crew at Station Oregon Inlet was welcomed by friendly visitors today! Throughout the course of our duties we see plenty of marine life. However, it’s not every day that we get to see manatees enter our basin!” the crew wrote in a Facebook post.
Manatee sightings are relatively unusual in North Carolina, though one with distinct propeller marks was spotted several times over the summer across the Outer Banks. One of the two seen Saturday appeared to have similar marks.
Manatees have been spotted as far north as coastal Virginia during summer migration season, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“During the summer manatees expand their range, and on rare occasions are seen as far north as Massachusetts on the Atlantic coast and as far west as Texas on the Gulf coast,” the wildlife service says. “Manatees may travel hundreds of miles during a year’s time, preferring to travel along channels and shorelines.”
West Indian manatees are federally-protected and considered endangered, though through protection and recovery efforts, their numbers have rebounded in recent years.
Adult manatees average 10 feet long and weigh about 2,200 pounds, with some recorded at lengths greater than 13 feet and weighing as much as 3,500 pounds, the USFW said.