Capture Giant Sea-Cow


Monster Taken by Fishermen Weights 3,000 Pounds and is Twelve Feet Long.

This story is one of those tales from the sea that fed the traveler’s imagination! The capture of the Manatee nearly caused the death of one local angler in the fray. Reprinted from an article in a Baxter Springs, Kan. newspaper in 1912.

Point Isabel, Tex.–Mexican fishermen had an exciting encounter with a manatee, a giant sea-cow, in the shallow water of the Laguna Madre near here recently. It was captured only one hour after one of the men, Ramon Rodriguez, had been seriously hurt by one of its flippers.

The creature was 12 feet long and weighed more than 3,000 pounds. It is being kept alive and promises to survive for some time.

The sea-cow is supposed to have come up from the more southern waters of the gulf. It entered the Laguna Madre at the pass which separates the island from the mainland and was seen by the fishermen struggling in a shallow part of the strip of water.

A boat with three men went out to capture it. When they got close to it Rodriguez climbed out of the boat and attempted to put a rope around the manatee’s fins and was knocked unconscious by a blow from one of its flippers. He would have drowned had he not been dragged into the boat by his companions. The rope was finally fastened and the manatee was towed ashore. It is the second of its kind captured in the Laguna Madre in the last few weeks.

These animals are quite numerous along the coast 150 to 200 miles south of here. They are adapted to both salt and freshwater. A strange feature of their appearance in the waters along the coast is that they are usually accompanied by a school of sea devils, great sea monsters frequently weighing as much as 4,500 pounds each. One of them when harpooned has been known to drag 20 boats, hitched tandem, each carrying two men.

Such an experience came two or three years ago at Aransas Pass to a party of fishermen, among whom were John W. Robbis, then state treasurer; W. G. Sterret, present state game, fish and oyster commissioner, and J. W. Maxwell of Austin, a noted big game hunter and fisherman. They were fishing just off the little town of Tarpon when a sea devil of extraordinary size came to the surface near one of the boats. A boatman sank a harpoon deep into its body, the harpoon being secured to the boat by a line. The seadevil made off at lightning speed. As the boat to which it was attached passed the boats each threw a line, and 20 other boats, carrying 40 men, were towed by the giant animal. They had stuck to it for six hours, when it headed out toward the ocean. Then the men raised the signal of distress and a life-saving crew on Harbor Island rowed out and shot the monster.

Source: Baxter Springs News [Baxter Springs, Kan.], July 18, 1912


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