Inspired by Life: February 2018

Today is the start of a new blog group, Inspired by Life.  As most of you know I am amazed by the beauty that surrounds us.  The landscape and animal life in Florida is very different to that which I saw in South Africa, but it is equally as beautiful.  Added to that I can get up so much closer to all of the wildlife.  One of the most interesting sea creatures is the Manatee, or otherwise known as the Sea Cow.  They can grow up to 13 feet / 4m long and can weigh up to  1300 pounds / 590 kgs.  While they stay under water for a long time, they appear to be air breathing animals, coming up every so often to breathe.  They typically eat plant life.  They have a paddle type tail and front paws.  In winter the manatee tend to gather where there is warm water.

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Manatee welcoming committee

About 18 months ago a facility called Manatee Lagoon opened.  It appears that the local power company pushes warm water out into the Intracoastal and the result of that is that the manatee congregate in winter.  A manatee education center with a viewing dock has been built.  The place is free which is an added bonus.  Inside the facility is a education area and outside is the viewing dock. Manatee are a federally protected species and cannot be held in captivity unless is meets certain criteria.  You are not allowed to harras, hunt, capture or kill a Manatee.  If caught you will be prosecuted with a fine up to $50 000 and potentially a  year in prison.  All sites say do not touch the Manatee either.  Manatees are protected under the  Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as well as Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978.  It is good to be familiar with the laws if you are planning to attempt to swim with Manatee.

I have been wanting to go up to the viewing dock for a number of months. So Friday morning I dragged Amy off to Manatee Lagoon to see if we could see Manatee.  Friday was pretty quiet and so we were able to find space on the lower level to wait and watch.

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A little bit of history on the Florida Intracoastal.  The Intracoastal runs from Boston, Massachusetts to the southern tip of Florida.  It is a strip of water just inside of the edge of the US coast line. It appears it was built in the 1800’s to enable and protect trade within the US.

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Signs along the pathway

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A Turkey Vulture hovering above the boardwalk.  Turkey Vultures are pretty ugly to look and and their face resembles that of a Turkey – hence the name.   They live on roadkill and anything that may appear dead.

Of course, Manatee do not play in the water like dolphin.  They come up, breathe and go down and stay down.  So your view of the Manatee is mainly underwater.

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Also hovering in the water were these rather large fish.  I am not sure what they are but looking at fish charts they could be Mackeral.

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Just for a fleeting moment you get excited and snap away.  The Manatee has come up to breathe.  And in a split second it has disappeared again.

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While it was gone we decided to talk a walk through the information center and just see what was inside there.  Interestingly we found a display of the skeleton of a Manatee.

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Quiet strange looking creatures.

We decided to head on out once again to see if we could see any more manatee and for a while we just waited and watched.

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I thought I would try and take where the warm water source was coming out of.  Looking closely at this image the “water splash” is in fact barnacles stuck to the side of the wall.

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One of the most interesting sights was this Iguana swimming in the ocean.  It veered out into the Intracoastal and I wondered if it aimed to swim all the way across.  It was a long way.  This is definitely a first for me.  I love these creatures – they are so cool to look at.

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Suddenly a Manatee started swimming past.  The combination here is my shadow and the body of the Manatee.

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The full length of this particular Manatee

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Time to breathe again

While watching the Manatee a Gull flew in trying to find a place to land.  It nearly landed on top of Amy.  Swerving it made it’s way past me and landed on the railing next to us.

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Doing some fancy maneuvering to find a spot to land.

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A Ring Billed Gull.  Note that it is in it’s breeding colors – the red ring around it’s eye and the red stripe from the mouth.

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Finally we say goodbye to Mia the Manatee and her calf, but I know I will be back.

This was definitely a trip well worth taking.  It would be nice to be closer to them but just seeing them from the observation deck was a treat.  I look forward to doing it again

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Inspired by Life.    This is a circle blog.  Please take time to visit my fellow friend and blogger  Ceri Herd Photography and see what she has for you this month. Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their pages.

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