Wednesday, May 19, 2010

'Manatees jump, you get out of the way'

Sally Senger watched as younger staffers and volunteers at the South Florida Museum's Parker Manatee Aquarium did their thing Wednesday morning, preparing a young male manatee for transport to another destination.

She's been on staff there for a long time.

"Spent 10 years with Snooty," Senger said, referring to the aquarium's 60-year-old star resident, as 10 people loaded a young 700-pound manatee into a panel truck. She'd fed Snooty lettuce before this exercise began.

Last year, she'd have been down there in the holding tank with the others, coaxing the young manatee into the 10-foot sling to be hoisted out.

Senger's a fit senior citizen, a regular in a Bradenton gym, confident in her physical ability.

She had to be, working with manatees.

"It's can be hazardous," Senger said. "They flop around. They can go head to tail like that. That tail is powerful."

Last July Senger was helping out during a manatee's medical examination. She was sitting on the critter, when it moved suddenly and came down on her leg.

"I pulled it out and saw, oh, it's broken," she said.

Ten months later, Senger lets the youngsters do the heavy lifting.

Helping supervise was good enough Wednesday morning.

"Manatees jump, you got to get out of the way," she said.

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