Manatees have been on my mind lately. These sweet and gentle giants of the sea are always in peril, from boats, environmental problems, and the occasional thoughtless, selfish nutjob found trying to ride one. I shudder to think how many more of those people who must scare them half to death are never caught in the act.

image

It’s easy to see how power boats just zoom right over them, oblivious.  They hang suspended just under the surface, blending into their environment so perfectly into sundappled shades of green and brown.

Right now the manatees are having a particularly bad year, as they fight for their lives against red tide. Record numbers are dying from it, but many people, including regular citizens, are trying to save them one at a time. They attract adoring and compassionate fan clubs of animal lovers willing to hold their heavy heads out of the water, so they can breathe until help arrives. If I lived in the right place I’d be right there with them.

image

I’ve been fortunate to vacation along the Florida coasts and spent several hours enjoying exploring the wild animal park at Homosassa Springs. They showcase their local population of manatees, giving visitors ample opportunity to see these startlingly huge creatures up close. I stood enraptured at a railing, looking down into the springs at this mother and baby duo. The mother was very gentle with her child. It was touching and inspiring to watch them.

image

There was an underwater observation area that was a real thrill to experience. They seemed as curious about their watchers as the other way around.

There are less than 5,000 manatees left in the Florida population. We can only hope the tide will turn for them soon, red and otherwise.

Advertisements