I am sitting on a derelict pier outside of Melbourne, Florida, babysitting a dead manatee. It's one of those grimy mornings, where you're caked with sweat and smog by 10:00 A.M., and frankly, I'd like to be elsewhere -- like sitting in the sand, a tall mango smoothie in one hand, the latest Harry Potter in the other, my kids frolicking in the surf. Instead, I'm here on the other side of paradise, watching a manatee decompose.
This particular manatee, recently found floating in some retired couple's backyard, has just been dragged a mile through the Intracoastal Waterway while tethered to a marine patrol boat. Skin is...