MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — An 11-foot-long, 1,000-pound manatee was found dead along Delaware Bay on Sunday after becoming stranded.

Bob Schoelkopf, executive director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, told New Jersey 101.5 the manatee was found Sunday on a beach along the Delaware Bay near the Del Haven section of Middle Township but center staff could not reach it until Monday because of the timing of the low tides.

"The team literally had to walk three-quarters of a mile just to get to the animal," Schoelkopf said, adding that it had been dead for several weeks and was floating until washing onto the beach.

Manatees will sometimes feed along the Jersey Shore in the summer and fall but not in the winter, according to Schoelkopf. He's not sure why this manatee didn't return south.

"New Jersey has a fantastic feeding area for them. All of the back bays, all the marsh grass and everything back there is perfect for them to feed at their leisure. Unfortunately they may get up here and not know to go back south again as the weather changes. Sometimes they get caught into a warm water spring under the affluent of nuclear power plants," Schoelkopf said.

Shoelkopf said that the manatee will be left on the beach as it is too far to get a vehicle to the animal.

"It will decomopose on its own and the birds and foxes, and if it washes out maybe sharks, will get it," Shoelkopf said.

He add that if you are walking along a beach anytime of the year and see a stranded or dead animal, to contact the center at 609-266-0538.

"Don't assume that we know about it. Call us anyway 24 hours hours a day we're on call. We don't mind multiple calls on the same animal," Shoelkopf said.

Manatees were put on the threatened species list in 2017 after progress was made in building their population, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They are found primarily off the southeast coast of the United States

Manatee after washing up onto a beach along Delaware Bay in Middle Township
Manatee after washing up onto a beach along Delaware Bay in Middle Township (Marine Mammal Stranding Center)

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