Lunch with a Manatee!

Today we decided to have lunch in the Pilot House restaurant, which is only a couple of boats along from our boat. We were just finishing lunch at the glass bottom bar, and chatting with the barman, when the cry went up: “manatee! Pepe is back!”

Manatee (17)

So we ran to the rail of the bar, and looked down, and there was a gorgeous sea creature. He’s known here as Pepe, and comes to hang out and get a back rub occasionally.  Manatees are gentle sea mammals, with no known predators. Their greatest danger comes from man.  We count ourselves very lucky to have seen him, and enjoyed watching him. Here’s the scientific stuff from Wiki. Scroll down for the pictures!

From Wikipedia:

“Manatees (family Trichechidae, genus Trichechus) are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows. There are three accepted living species of Trichechidae, representing three of the four living species in the order Sirenia: the Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis), the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), and the West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis). They measure up to 13 feet (4.0 m) long, weigh as much as 1,300 pounds (590 kg), and have paddle-like flippers. The name manatí comes from the Taíno, a pre-Columbian people of the Caribbean, meaning “breast”.

During winter, manatees often congregate near the warm-water outflows of power plants along the coast of Florida instead of migrating south as they once did. Some conservationists are concerned these manatees have become too reliant on these artificially warmed areas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to find a new way to heat the water for manatees that are dependent on plants that have closed. The main water treatment plant in Guyana has four manatees that keep storage canals clear of weeds; there are also some in the ponds of the National Park in Georgetown, Guyana.

Studies suggest Florida manatees must have some access to fresh water for proper regulation of water and salts within their bodies.

Accurate population estimates of the Florida manatee (T. manatus) are difficult. They have been called scientifically weak due to widely varying counts from year to year, some areas showing increases, others decreases and little strong evidence of increases except in two areas. Manatee counts are highly variable without an accurate way to estimate numbers: In Florida in 1996, a winter survey found 2,639 manatees, in 1997, a January survey found 2,229, and a February survey found 1,706. A statewide synoptic survey in January 2010 found 5,067 manatees living in Florida, which was a new record count.

Population viability studies conducted in 1997 found that decreasing adult survival and eventual extinction is a probable future outcome for Florida manatees, without additional protection.

Fossil remains of Florida manatee ancestors date back about 45 million years.”

From Wikipedia.  Keep scrolling for pictures: (I tried really hard to edit them, but it was difficult to cut some out!)

Manatee (15)
blowing bubbles again!

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