We live in SW Florida most of the year and enjoy when our friends come down to visit. In January, two of our dearest friends from up north accompanied my hubby and me to Manatee Park.
Manatee Park is located in Fort Myers, FL and is part of the Lee County Parks system. Manatee Park is also the gathering place for one of the most adorable creatures we have down here in SW Florida. OK, you guessed it…it’s the manatee. Why in the world do manatees gather at Manatee Park? It’s not a zoo or an aquarium. Their website explains:
During the cool winter months when the temperature of the Gulf of Mexico and rivers drops below 68 degrees F, the endangered Florida manatee seeks refuge from the cold waters by swimming into the Florida Power and Light warm water discharge canal. This non-captive manatee sanctuary provides a winter haven for these warm-blooded native mammals that live, feed and raise their young year round in the fresh, brackish or saltwater coastal areas of Florida.
Unfortunately, the day we visited was not a good day to see a large group of manatees lolling around in the warm water. As a matter of fact, there were no manatees to be seen in the main canal.
As we were preparing to leave, we noticed a group of people staring into the water of a little channel next to a walkway on the way out of the park. Of course, we had to see what was going on. There in that little channel was a baby manatee who had found it’s way into the area and couldn’t find it’s way out. The poor little guy was swimming back and forth, but there were bars at the end of the channel that led to the big canal. On the other side of the bars was an adult manatee who hung around for a little while, but then swam away. I still wonder if that was the mom.
The park workers were doing their best to remove a bar that, hopefully, the baby manatee could swim through to freedom. After quite a long time, they finally got the bar out and now it was a waiting game. The baby kept swimming up to the bars, but was having a heck of a time getting just the right place to go through.
I had my camera with me and managed to video tape the exact time the manatee found his way through to freedom. Here’s the short video. You’ll hear hubby voice encouraging the baby on:
Everyone cheered as the baby manatee swam away. I sure hope he found mom.
We live on a canal, and occasionally we see manatees swim by. We can tell there’s a manatee in the water from the surface action. The water smooths out and you can see movement. It’s really hard to get a photo of them because they only come up to the surface to breath and then dive back down. You might see their snout pop up and hear them blow the water out, see their back breach out of the water, or see their big tail come up on the way down. I did manage to get a photo of a mom and baby swimming by a few years ago. If I can find it in my files, I’ll add it to this post.
If you’d like more information on manatees and Manatee Park, here are a few links: