Children attending summer camp at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Moss Point were treated to a manatee sighting Monday while on a field trip.
The center posted on its Facebook page that three manatees showed up in Rhodes Bayou near the Dantzler Street bridge while the middle school-aged children were out doing water-quality testing.
The sea cows were there just long enough for the children to see them before the manatees headed back out to the Pascagoula River.
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Erin Parker, who runs the camp, said 11 students were on the field trip.
“The manatees arrived at the perfect moment,” she said. “They were so excited. We were on a narrow walkway and some of the kids had binoculars, so they just lined up and watched.
“None of the kids had seen a manatee before. They would poke their heads up once in a while.”
Parker said the manatees were visible for about 20 minutes. Parker said she called the Manatee Sighting Network and sent a video a scientist at the center was able to capture of the animals as they passed under the bridge.
A woman at the network “knew the manatee right away,” Parker said. “It had been tagged, but lost its tag about 18 months ago. She was really excited to know where she was and how she was doing.”
Parker said the appearance of the manatees also helped the children understand why water quality is important.
“We talked about why we should care about the water quality,” she said. “They were like, ‘Oh, because the manatees live in the river.’ ”
Parker said if anyone sees a manatee, they should report it to the Manatee Sighting Network at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.