Problem: No Beach Tags.
“This big fat sea cow had no Beach Pass to speak of. And he’s been lounging around the water near the Atlas Yacht Club in Bayonne. Next, in a creek outside a Linden oil refinery,” said a local beach official who wished to remain anonymous.
Ilya was first spotted Thursday morning in Morses Creek off the Arthur Kill by a ConocoPhillips worker conducting regular inspection rounds at the Bayway refinery, according to company spokesman Rich Johnson.
Johnson was livid at this kind of scam. “If I have to reach in my pocket for a Beach Tag for my family to use the Jersey Shore, so does this fatso,” squawked Johnson, sounding perturbed. It may have been that Ilya the Manatee was not used to having to pay for a Beach Tag. The beaches along the coast from Florida through North Carolina, Virginia and Delaware are all free.
Generally, manatees weigh between 880 to 1,200 lb, and are about 9.2 feet to 9.8 feet long. Since this was a first offense, Ilya was let off with a warning. However, he was placed under the authority of the US Coast Guard, and sent back to his home state of Florida, under the aegis of the Miami Seaquarium.
“This guy Ilya was huge. It took ten of us to lift him into the transport,” said a Coast Guard spokesman. “Very lazy. All he wanted to do was float around and eat vegetables.”