Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NATURE NOTES

Right now we are in Florida road-tripping  We were in Destin for a couple of days which is along the panhandle, and now we're heading south.  I'll be posting those photos at another time but because I wanted to join in Michelle's Nature Notes, I thought I would share this wonderful experience we had today.   


We recently found out about Fanning Springs State Park and were only there for a couple of hours.  I can't tell you much about the place except for an initial impression of trees laden with Spanish Moss.  When you haven't seen it before it makes those trees look like they have been all decked out in their Sunday Best. The sun was warm - something I have missed of late - and it was a balmy 72 degrees.   


When we stopped at the entrance the lady didn't sound too hopeful about us seeing any Manatees, which is why we were there in the first place.  She told us when she checked earlier that there were no Manatees in the springs.  We decided to walk down anyhow, at the same time keeping our expectations low while enjoying our surroundings, and it sure was peaceful there.  
  

Much to our delight we had a wonderful surprise as the first thing we saw, just underneath the surface of the water, was a Manatee.  We were joined by a small group of people, one of whom told us that they hadn't long ago seen one twice as big, and that this 'little guy' must have been not much older than a calf.


These magnificent aquatic marine animals roam the waters of southeast Florida from April to October, but then they head to places such as Fanning Springs where the water remains at a constant 70 degrees all year round.  This temperature may seem too cold for humans, but for Manatees it is warm enough for them to survive the winter.  You can read all about the park here.


Female Manatees are referred to as Sea Cows.  Babies are called Calves.  



A few interesting facts about Manatees are:

Manatees are marine mammals and breath air through their nostrils.

They belong to an order of marine mammals called the "Sirenians".  Dugongs are the other member of the family.  Stellar sea cows were also a member of this family, but they were hunted to extinction within 27 years of their discovery.

Manatees can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

Their closest modern relative is the elephant.  Evidence of this relationship is easy to spot - both animals have three to four fingernails.

Manatees are typically pretty slow, but can swim up to 20 mph.

There are four species of manatees: the West Indian Manatee, the Florida Manatee (technically a subspecies of the West Indian species), the Amazonian Manatee and the West African Manatee.

Manatees are credited for being the basis of the mermaid legend.  If you click here you can see how that came about.

Manatees are herbivores.

They can live up to 60 years old.

They have no natural predators but, they are in peril and endangered.

I found the above facts here.


If you want to learn more about the Manatee you can go here.


It was at times very hard to make him out as the reflections on the water were powerful, but after awhile his head popped up almost as if he was staring in our direction, and he slowly made his way right next to us.  We watched as he swam under the walkway out towards the open area beyond.


There he goes and that is my reflection in the same photo.


He is out there somewhere.  Of course he could be a she. 



These beautiful marine animals are endangered.  You can read how we humans can help to protect them here.

This lady we spoke to originally was so nice and made us chuckle.  She looked at all the pillows fluffed up in the backseat, along with Mrs. Brown's blanket, smiled and called us "Weary Travelers."

Thank you  for hosting this lovely meme Michelle.
Please visit other Nature Notes lovers here.