- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - A manatee found dead in Mobile Bay last month apparently died after being hit by a boat, marine officials said.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab said the case was the first adult manatee death in Alabama blamed on a boat strike.

The manatee, known as Zewie, was first tagged by researchers in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in 2010. The mammal became known as a regular seasonal visitor on the Alabama coast and was often seen with other manatees.

But Zewie’s body was found in upper Mobile Bay on Aug. 21, and an examination indicated the animal had been dead a couple of days.

“We have always been proud to say that we did not have boat-related manatee mortality in Alabama waters,” said Ruth H. Carmichael, senior marine scientist at the lab and director of its Manatee Sighting Network.

“This event is unfortunate because we lost an endangered species and valuable member of our local manatee population, but also because we have to face the reality that even in a large water body like Mobile Bay and with relatively few manatees, boat strikes are possible,” she said.

Tracking data showed Zewie traveled from Crystal River, Florida, as far west as Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, during his seasonal migration along the northern Gulf coast.

Scientists are trying to locate another manatee that was tagged in Alabama in August 2012 but hasn’t been seen recently.

The endangered marine mammals are generally found in Florida, but they have been showing up more often in the coastal waters of Alabama and Mississippi.

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