Living with the Manatees

ManateeI do not have to travel far to be in the midst of wildlife, the feathery kind that perch in the branches of the mangroves (herons and egrets) or those massive creatures of the water that find their way up our canal to our dock.

Living at the end of a finger canal that leads into the main waterway that leads into the bay that leads into the Gulf of Mexico (you get the picture) has its advantages. It provides a sanctuary for the West Indian manatees plus the water temperature is warm which is to their liking.


Curious creatures, they will come up to the dock and raise their head as if to greet us, take a breath and submerge or just float like a raft.

Blue EyesOur greatest thrill was when a female introduced her newly born to us. Look at those blue eyes…just like Paul Newman. The calf nursed and nuzzled under its mother’s flipper getting the nourishment it needs to grow to its 10-12 feet, 1000 pound size. Gestation is usually 13 months and the calf will stay with its mother for up to two years. We have had as many as eight manatees of varying sizes appear at one time. Resembling large flat boulders scattered in the water, they remind me of stepping stones. Being an herbivorous, aquatic mammal, we have observed them reaching up to eat the mangrove leaves. They spend about eight hours a day grazing on sea grasses and vegetation.

Manatee Mom and BabyManatee Mom and Baby

Other times we have observed splashing, thrashing, rolling and even doing somersaults which usually means there is sexual activity going on. Because there is no mating season,  this can occur any time.

Scarred Manatee

I’m always saddened at the scars these “sea cows” often bear. This is a result of boat and ship propellers. According to Wikipedia, manatees hear at a high frequency and many boats emit very low frequencies which confuse the manatee.

Manatee Zone

There are organizations formed to protect the manatee as well as educate the public of the hazards of hitting one. Boating regulations require slow speeds in certain areas and seasons, but often go ignored.

Along Florida’s Crystal River, there are boat tours  designed for swimming with the manatees. We haven’t tried this, but I do want to check it out. Sounds safe, fun and educational. They run about $40.

Manatee Touch and Feel

When our grandchildren visited in May, we went to Sanibel Island by boat to swim and shell. A most surprising thing happened.  About a dozen manatees appeared and stayed in the shallows for hours allowing swimmers to touch them as they glided by. The grandchildren were excited and took home a memory of “swimming with the manatees.”

What a thrill!  Nature is wonderful. And this was free.

ManateesAll photos by Ron Mayhew Photohraphy.


About travelerlynne

Traveler. Writer. Retired Educator.Traveling on and off the beaten path with my photographer husband. Volunteering locally as well as in Haiti and Tanzania, an enriching and humbling experience. A sun lover! Shelling, boating, fishing and watching sunsets. Growing mango, banana, key lime,and pineapple.Making smoothies and chutneys. Enjoying family and friends! Savoring each new day!
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45 Responses to Living with the Manatees

  1. Lynn Sarda says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this, Lynne. We have those lovely creatures in our canal, on their way to the haven your corner provides. I get concerned when I see boaters speeding through the canal, paying no attention to the life in the waters.

  2. It really upsets me. Perhaps we need to find out why boats aren’t fitted with an additional frequency to reduce the amount of accidents. But, I agree, the careless boaters who speed put these marvelous creatures at risk.

  3. Dianne says:

    I love this post!!! Pine Island has more wildlife (of the good kind) than I ever saw living in Miami. Are we lucky or what??

  4. We are indeed blessed, Dianne. Thanks for your cheery comment.

  5. Wow! I’m in Palm Harbor. I love our wildlife! I got to touch a manatee recently at Weeki Wachee Springs River.

  6. What a great experience. We really are fortunate in this part of the world. I haven’t bee to Weeki Wachee Springs in years. Sounds like I need to go.

  7. What an amazing privilege to be able to get so close to these creatures! Thanks for this article and the wonderful pictures. I trust Isaac hasn’t affected you too much. Keep safe

  8. What a lovely post, both words and pictures… wonderful creatures.

  9. Thank you, Elaine. I do feel I live in paradise…always something to see along the mangroves. Isaac…Just some rain and wind but no affects. Down graded to a tropical storm and was 200 miles off our coast by the time it came through.We were ready for it.

  10. Madhu says:

    How thrilling to be able to touch and feel these wonderful creatures! I have never seen one in the wild! I can imagine how excited the children must have been. Am going to show this to the grandchildren when i visit them this weekend 🙂

  11. It is an exciting experience. I am always so excited when they come up to our dock. I had taken pictures of them drinking fresh water from our garden hose and would have included those photos but (alas, don’t have them any more). At least your grandchildren will get an idea of the experience. 🙂

  12. Lisaman says:

    What an interesting looking animal…I didn’t realise you could almost swim with them!!

  13. Oh my gosh, I love the lil’ baby manatee…so CUTE! Thanks for the lesson…I had no idea about their frequencies in hearing — poor guys. Thanks for sharing:)

  14. snowbirdpress says:

    What an endearing and wonderful post. Many thanks!

  15. Thanks, snowbird for your kind remark.

  16. Barb says:

    Lynne, love your blog on the manatees and super photos! We used to love it when they would come to the restaurant to drink fresh water from the ice maker.

  17. Thanks, Barb. Living where we do, we are fortunate to observe them in the wild. What I didn’t share with my readers was the young, dead manatee in our canal recently. We had to call wildlife authorities to retrieve it. Not pleasant.Don’t know what happened to it. Wasn’t scarred.

  18. Paula says:

    Enjoyed . What an extraordinary experience to view so many, so close!

  19. Thanks, Paula. Glad you enjoyed the post. Every year we have them in our canal.

  20. Tahira says:

    They say the best things in life are free! Great post, Lynne!

  21. adinparadise says:

    What amazing looking creatures these are. Thanks for sharing your photos. 🙂

  22. My pleasure. I look forward to them returning to their little sanctuary.

  23. Wow, what an amazing, peaceful creature! I know next to nothing of the manatee, but this is an experience (and post) to be treasured 🙂

  24. Gigi Galore says:

    GORGEOUS!!!! I have just checked in ( here) for a quick peek after my hiatus 🙂 and this is wonderful and these images you have chosen are INCREDIBLY ENCHANTING!!!! What wonderful news. How lucky you are. Pete is going to go bananas! 🙂

  25. Thanks Gigi for checking in. A rather large manatee showed up yesterday under the dock. Always a treat for us to watch.

  26. You are lucky to live so close!

  27. Yes, I am. Thank you. Another manatee visited us yesterday. I never tire of it. Then the bald eagles showed up in the Australian Pines that line the canal with the mangroves and created quite a territorial ruckus. I am sure that where you are, you have some rewarding opportunities for viewing wildlife.

  28. globalanni says:

    Amazing! My father took my daughter to see the manatees and to do some diving this past summer in Florida. She has not stopped talking about the manatees and how one young manatee chewed on her arm. Beautiful post. Thanks!!

  29. What a memorable experience for your daughter and one that she’ll always treasure…her personal little encounter with manatees. Not something many people can do. Thanks for commenting. I always look forward to your posts.

  30. Auds says:

    The baby manatee is so adorable! I want to take him home. I hope these organization will implement stricter rules to avoid any harm from these big yet delicate animals. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Thanks you for your comments. Let’s hope through education boaters will be more aware.

  32. Down here in South Africa, I had never even heard the word “Manatee”. After reading your article I consulted WP and have now learnt something – thank you

  33. Thank you for your comment. This is what is so wonderful about blogging and the internet. Educating ourselves and discovering something new is just a click away.

  34. I’ve heard Sanibel is amazing, but I’ve never been there. These manatees are amazing. Love the Paul Newman eyes!

  35. Sanibel is nice and is know for its shelling. The manatees so close to the beach that day was a rare event and I’m just glad we were there…but then again, I get to see them from my back porch and or dock quite frequently. Thanks for the comment.

  36. Pingback: Up Periscope | On the Go with Lynne

  37. Nin S. says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen a picture as well as heard the name of namatee…. Are they endanger animals?

  38. this post answered my question! how great that the manatees visited with everyone – what a great experience for your grandchildren!

  39. It was an unexpected encounter, Lisa. One the grand kids will remember for a long time.They will be back in July and perhaps we won’t see any manatees. No guarantees.

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