Monday, December 01, 2008

Cows ... Sea Cows ... Manatee Monday

The winter months bring the manatees up the rivers seeking the warmth of the 72 degree spring water that gushes from the Floridan Aquifer. Powerplant thermal effluent works too, but the original manatee hot tubs are our amazing Florida springs. I think the picture above shows a mother, a yearling, and a baby.

Last week, I made it out to Manatee Springs State Park on a cold morning. At the end of the boardwalk where the warm, clear spring water meets the cooler tea-colored Suwannee River, the manatees were grazing. The baby above is in position for nursing and may be doing just that in the picture.

The water level was low which made for good viewing and I stood out on the dock for a long time just watching them graze. The lack of prop scars on these manatees is encouraging. Maybe the slow zones and public awareness programs are working.

Every once in awhile, a muzzley head would poke up out of the water for a quick breath, then it was back to work.

If you need some peace and tranquility in your life, you should find some manatees and just watch them going about their business.
Pretty much maximum mellowness.
Might be a good thing to do after a bout of Christmas shopping at the mall.

I know that today, while I am wrestling my middle schoolers for a bit of their minute attention spans, the manatees are peacefully grazing out at Manatee Springs.
Their schedule is driven by tide, water temperature, and a need to graze rather than bells and class periods.
Just the thought of that is soothing.


Anonymous said...

This is the one BIG thing we are looking forward to seeing when we move there. (Of course you and the family are pretty high on the list also!) Can't wait! Can you have then wait around until we get there in March or is that asking a little too much of them?

Dani said...

They are such gentle creatures.
A few years ago when we were kayaking down at Ft.Desoto there was quite a few of them and much to our delight they stayed close to our kayak for quite awhile. It was such a great experience.

robin andrea said...

What beautiful creatures they are. I wish we had them here on the west coast. It would be great to spend an afternoon watching them graze like that.

threecollie said...

So nice...thanks...we all need some tranquility this time of year.

Sayre said...

Wow - you have quite a few hanging out there! We get some in the Wakulla River, but usually in spring during mating season. One year, we were the first to spot the manatees returning!

I shall spend some time today with my eyes closed, envisioning manatees...

Sandcastle Momma said...

We go to Homosassa every year to swim with them. They'll come up and nuzzle you and they like to nibble on your fins. There is something absolutely magical about them. Wonderful that you didn't see many prop marks!

TROLL said...

Here's a side project you're well-qualified to undertake, FC.

See if there's a link between fuel prices and manatee/boat collisions.

Wouldn't surprise me if the stats show an inverse relationship.

There were a LOT fewer drunken moron boaters around here this summer when prices were so high. A lot of people downsized their boat motors too.

Deb said...

Those are amazing creatures! I would probably just be staring at them for hours.

BeeDancer said...

You've got it right about the maximum mellowness...I feel such a sense of calm just watching them...thanks for sharing the photos

Just the Right Size said...

When I was growing up in Bradenton, we used to go to the planetarium near Palmetto where they had a live manatee in a tank. We used to be able to pet it and feed it lettuce.

So cool to see them. Makes you wonder how they make it with all the boats, pollution, loss of habitat & gators. They're such gentle creatures.

kathy a. said...

oh, wow. as robin said, we don't get manatees out this way. glad for the report that they didn't seem to have prop scars -- boats vs. these guys makes me shudder.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Great photographs. That definitely looks like a fun spring to visit, and may be a "hot spot" that they seek refuge at with the coming cold front.

S N B said...

Great pics! But they can scare the bejeebers out of a kayaker when they breach too close.

Cathy S. said...

I love manatees. I was at a meeting this morning next to the very same manatee Just the Right Size refers to in her comment. I did not pay attention to the speaker I was so intent on watching Snooty the Manatee and his two tank mates both being "rehabilitated" until they can be released back into the wild. They are such peaceful creatures.

crackercowlady said...

We're getting quite a few wild ones now outside the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park where we have six captive "girls".I love watching them do their barrel rolls! Have also fed them their vitamins and felt their whiskery faces. Such gentle creatures... One of my favorite photos is one taken in winter at the park with a large snake sunning itself on Betsy the Manatee's back, which out of water looks like a huge rock. Thanks for some great pics!

Floridacracker said...

I'll see what I can do. I speak fluent manatee.

I used to see them up close when I Rangered at Matanazas. Never get tired of seeing them ... same with dolphins.

It's easy to find them in the winter as they seek out the warmth. In the summer they are spread out along the coast line and harder to come by.

They are terrifically tranquil :)

I think I can envision them right now. I bet they are tucked tight into that spring boil. It's cold outside.

That's a blast. I did it a long time ago and need to go again, it's so close!

Good point and probably true.

Easy to do believe me.

Like a sedative with no bad side effects :)

Just Right,
Sounds like your manatee is still there.

Kathy A,
Manatee GO SLOW zones are strictly enforced around here which helps in preventing those prop scarring collisions.

It's a great spring for snorkeling or diving ... or just playing around. And in the winter there's always the manatees.

True. They are gentle, but they are big and strong too. I've seen them kick up an amazing wake when they are in a hurry.

Cathy S,
As a public speakin' kind of guy, I would hate to be competing with a tank of manatees for my audience's attention! LOL!

Sounds like a fun place to work and what a photo that must be.

amarkonmywall said...

3 weeks and counting until I see the cows again. Thanks for the preview. The new girl has nice markings. I'm not sure her snout is up to snuff, compared to last year's charmer.

Ericka said...

sooo cool. i've never seen a real live one before.

pablo said...

The look like mermaids to me.

Floridacracker said...

I'm sure they miss you as do we.

This time of year in FL, it's actually pretty easy to get close.

You have been too long at sea eating foul water and hardtack.

kevin said...

mmmmmm...Manatee steaks!

pablo said...

Actually, it was Christopher Columbus who was supposed to have mistaken manatees for mermaids.

Floridacracker said...

Sharpen your props gentlemen...

AFTER he had been too long at sea eating foul water and hardtack!

Alan said...

That's great. I agree that watching manatees is about one of the most relaxing activities on Earth. Don't see many in the wild 'round here, but I've always enjoyed them at Sea World, Homosassa Springs, or other springs whenever I get to visit one of those elsewhere.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Snort! Your exchange with Pablo...

I love this post so much. How blessed you are to be able to go see a sirenian whenever you wish. I have a couple of manatee posts from Guyana coming up that should amuse you, as I be a slobbering fool for manatees, and without the aid of foul water or hardtack. Arrr!