Thursday, June 11, 2009

Florida Manatee

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.

6.11.09a 025cs

Their nostrils are on the top of their face. It makes breathing easier and they have flaps that close while they are underwater.

These two stayed together the whole time. I am guessing it is a mother and youngster, though both seemed about the same size. They surfaced together, side by side, several times. 6.11.09a 029

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.6.11.09a 022cs  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.

They have big wide tails to propel them through the water.6.11.09a 027cs

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… 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…

I posted these pictures on May 4, “09. The Manatee can weigh 1000 lbs. It’s very big. They come into Blue Springs during the winter for the warm water. It’s 72 degrees year round.1.19.09 Blue Springs, Hoontoon Island 039c

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.

1.19.09 Blue Springs, Hoontoon Island 042c

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.


  1. What an awesome sighting. Kind of creepy being in the no see thru water with unknown critters about.

  2. Very interesting post and lovely images.

  3. Nice blog Carol. You certainly have access to a varied and vivid selection of wildlife on your doorstep. I will be following this blog all the way from the UK. Keep up the good work!

  4. What an amazing experience! Such a nice blog. You have such a variety of wildlife close by!

  5. Carol, that is wonderful that you were able to capture the manatees so vividly! I've never seen one in the wild, but our Columbus Zoo has two in the aquarium. They are beautiful to watch, so peaceful.

    I tried to find a link to the manatees at our zoo, but no luck. Here's one to the zoo's site:

  6. How fascinating! My 9 year old and I are following you from NJ, sad to say, but in our city the closest we come to wildlife is garden bugs and the ocassional opossum at night, so we do a lot of zoo and wild parks visits, but you and your blog keep us grounded to the reality of living closer to nature.


    Maria & Andres

  7. Carol, visit my blog. I have an award for you.

  8. Hi Carol, You got wonderful pictures of the Manatee. I lived in Jacksonville for about 5 yrs.---and I heard alot of stories about the Manatee on the St. John's River. I was out on a boat a few times while living there--but we didn't see any Manatee. Love your pictures!!!

  9. These are great photos! I never realized how cute manatees are.

  10. It's so hot today that these pictures look like heaven to me!


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