I wasn’t able to get very good pictures..but we had a great time watching the Manatees.
We were cruising S on the St Johns River, FL. Near green marker 3, Jim spotted a Manatee. They don’t surface for very long..usually my camera is just getting into focus and they are gone.
We were in a wide part of the river so we shut down the engine and watched them. The slow current was pushing one way and the wind the other, so we remained in about the same spot.
We were quite a ways from them but they came up to the boat and looked us over. You can’t imagine how surprised we were.
Their nostrils are on the top of their face. It makes breathing easier and they have flaps that close while they are underwater.
They never come completely out of the water like a dolphin. You can see what appears to be a prop scar on the back of one. We were not in a “slow speed Manatee Zone”, and a couple of boats came speeding by. I tried to signal them to slow down but they ignored and continued on. Fortunately the Manatees were close to us.
The water of the St Johns River is like a dark tea. That’s why it is so hard to photograph them here.
The day before I had to clear the prop of hydrilla, an invasive water plant. We had gone up the Salt River Run to Salt Springs. Once in there with clear water and hopefully no gators, (they are on the run in) I was able to see where it was wrapped around the prop and on the rudder. It loaded up again on the run out so once in the middle of Lake George, I put on my snorkel and mask and with a dock line in hand, I dove under the boat, figuring I’d be able to see once I was under it…nope..nothing..my face was about a foot from the prop and rudder and I never saw it. Having done it earlier I was able to get it by feel. Kind of an eerie feeling…not being able to see what was in the water. We have seen gators crossing the lake. They are out there…
This is crystal clear water. They are all below the surface. They can be between 9 and 10 ft long when full grown. That’s a lot of Manatee. But they are very docile and slow moving. That’s why you see so many with prop scars. Because they move so slow it’s hard to get out of the way of fast moving boats.
Not very impressive photos…but the meeting was unforgettable. When they were done checking us out…The 3 of them gave great splashes with their tails and then we didn’t see them again until they were farther up river. We have anchored near that island on almost every trip N…this was our first encounter…but we’ll be looking more closely next time.