Saturday, June 02, 2012

Manatee in the Gulf

One of the most endearing and beautiful things about being close to the gulf is seeing all the sea life in its natural environment. One day, I was walking outside and Jon sent me a text that there was "something big" swimming up the gulf.  I immediately went to where he described and saw what he was talking about. 
This dark shadow was huge and swimming gracefully along the shore. As it passed, fishermen pulled in their lines and it went about it's business.  I couldn't see exactly what it was, but parts of it kept surfacing. At first, I thought it was a shark (I think everything is a shark) but there were no fins.  It wasn't a dolphin either, as the dolphins surface and are smaller.  I took pictures and so did Jon from up on the balcony.  We couldn't be sure what it was.
We spoke with a friend who chuckled and said, "it's a manatee". We hadn't seen manatees before.  I did some research and they are quite endangered. There are about 2000 remaining in Florida  They are gentle giants and are quite social.  They prefer warm water (72 degrees) and swim in rivers and occasionally along the gulf.  They are mammals and nurse their young and breathe air!  They are plant eaters!
Imagine our surprise when a few days later we saw ANOTHER manatee in the water.  This time a mother and her young daughter were wading in the knee high water.  They spotted the young manatee and made a slight motion to get close to it.
The manatee was very interested in them!
 She came right over and let them pet her back.  She examined them and let them examine her.  She was very curious and friendly.
 The mother and daughter were gentle and equally curious.  Although the little girl was a bit hesitant...
 After a few moments, the manatee slowly swam into the ocean to get on with her day.
Here is my version of the manatees.

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