The Student News Site of Hazen High School

The Kilt

The Student News Site of Hazen High School

The Kilt

The Student News Site of Hazen High School

The Kilt

The Sinking Manatee

A Short Story

The boat coasted along the water, as the sun sparkled on the waves. The water looked like white ruffles behind us in every direction. I looked at my scuba gear and pulled the rest of my wetsuit on. It stuck to my body like a second skin, it always felt weird to wear, but at least it kept me warm.

“Alright miss, we’re here” Captain Henry shouted over the engine of the boat, slowing down. He stepped over and helped me with the last bit of gear. Picking up the mouthpiece and handing it to me, it was purple with stripes.

“Wish me luck, I’m going to find that hurt manatee and save it!” I spoke while taking a seat on the edge of the boat. Putting the mouthpiece in and adjusting to the steady flow of oxygen from the tank on my back.

“You go save ’em, Dr. Charles. Oh, and Cleo be careful please we don’t want a repeat of last time.” Taking one last look at Henry with his dusty silver hair. A silly hat I had got him for Christmas years ago rested on his mop of a head, it was tilted to the side. I nodded once, giving him a small smile around the mouthpiece, and fell backward into the water. The water erupted around me, but my wet suit kept me warm. I slowly started turning in the water, doing small flips. Then I looked for the reason for my deep water exhibition of the day; the manatee in question was not too far from me. There was a school of fish near it and lots of vibrant coral. The water made all of it look dystopian, I would never get used to the beauty of it.

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I swam deeper into the water and worked my way over to the manatee. My mouthpiece made bubbles, while the sun reflected tortoise shell-like patterns on the ocean floor. Then the manatee looked over at me as I got up close. Its beautiful skin had large discoloration and what looked like a sore from the reported cold stress. The report told of how the boater had seen a manatee that looked to be exhibiting cold stress symptoms. The boater called immediately to file a report and get a rescue team over as soon as possible to check it out. He then tested the water to see how cold it was. It was about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 

I swam around the manatee to see the extent of the cold stress symptoms. It was pretty bad, the manatee was skinnier than most should be. She had around three sores on her grayish-green skin. There was also old scarring most likely from a boat propeller, it was a jagged scar that was lighter than the skin around it. The algae that covered her skin was vibrant with life compared to her. I felt sadness cover us both at the bottom of the ocean with nothing but the knowledge of change and sickness. Taking a breath through my mouthpiece I then made a note of my findings. Taking one more look at the manatee I swam up to the boat. My mouthpiece made bubbles as I breached the surface, I took it off to yell at Henry in the boat. Getting his attention immediately as if he knew just by the slight change in the water’s surface that I would be back up soon.

“She has cold stress. Radio the nearest care center to get some people over here. I’ll see if she has a tag to tell her age.” Henry nodded and made his way to the boat radio. The radio buzzed with static as he called for assistance. The sun was slowly setting on the surface glowing as if saying a final happy goodbye. Diving back down to check her for any indication of a tag. I swam around her and saw a yellow tag, upon looking closer it said When she was born. She was born in 2006, making her about seventeen years old. Meaning she could have had a baby I thought to myself as I looked around to determine if I was right. In the corner of my eye, I saw a lump of gray. Looking closer it was a healthy baby manatee sleeping soundly in the soft shifting sand. The current made the sand lift, and flow around the baby. When the extra help arrives I’ll need to inform them that we need to take the baby with us. Manatees are very protective of their babies and they will be extra stressed if separated from their newborn babies.

As the sun finally set the team of wildlife helpers arrived and we got both manatees into the boat. We kept them hydrated and safe while we cruised to the closest wildlife hospital. Today turned out a lot better than I thought it would, hopefully, we can release the manatees after we fix them up!


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Maddy Williams
Hey y'all! I’m Maddy Williams (she/they). I'm part of the Kilt staff. I love how the Kilt lets me rant about my interests in a formatted sort of way and make art to go along with! Hope y’all love the online version of the Kilt!
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