Wednesday, March 12, 2008
These big gentle mammals are fun to observe here in Florida. When the Gulf gets cold, they come into the inland waterways that have warmer water. Homosassa Springs is one of those areas. You can pay to go on a boat to scuba dive in an specific area where they often come. The area is roped off so the manatee can remain secluded, if they desire. However, the animals are not afraid of people but are curious about them. Many of them also like to be touched and they come past the rope to where the people are to touch noses or get a belly rub.
You can also see manatee at Homosassa State Park. It is like a zoo and, expect for one, all the animals there are native of Florida. Most of them are rescued injured animals. Manatee are injured and die by boat motors and also by red tide. In the first picture at the park, they are gathering for a feeding of carrots. Volunteers, many of whom are senior citizens, give narrations about the animals. Manatees are vegetarians and in the wild eat all day. The park has a walk way out to a dock where you can observe the manatees by looking into the water or through windows. They have built a pipe out from the dock and one manatee is holding on while she naps. Another is just floating on her back. What animal do you think is the nearest relative to the manatee? The elephant, of course.