(NOTE: The photos in this post (except the one of our dinghy) are not ours. We were too busy communing to take any silly pictures.)
When we first entered southern waters last fall, I at least was figuring we’d be seeing manatees on a regular basis. I mean, they’re everywhere, right? And all those signs for “Manatee Zone – minimum wake” can’t be there for no reason.
But we didn’t see them. At least, we saw traces a couple of times, but never enough of a view to even be certain that was what it was.
This morning, Nicki and I dinghied up the canal on Longboat Key to the Longbeach Cafe – a place that’s become a favorite stop for us. Basically it’s a diner, with a more interesting menu than your average inland diner, and a patio on the canal with a sea wall that you can tie your dinghy to when you come for breakfast. Or brunch, if early mornings aren’t your thing. So of course we were there for brunch.
Anyway, after brunch, and chatting with another couple who were very interested in this crazy, off-the-beaten-track life we live, we got into the car… er… dinghy, and headed back out the canal. And a quarter-mile later shut the motor off to drift slowly through a herd of manatees! We think there were five, maybe six. They’d stick their noses (some big, some quite small) up to breathe, which is how we spotted them, and then a couple minutes later they’d do it again…
Now mind you, the water in the canal wasn’t as clear as in this photo, but we could still see them clearly when they were nearby. Pretty cool!
And then – on a whim – I stuck my fingers in the water next to the dinghy and wiggled them gently…
And one came to see me! Very curious, bumped my hand with her nose, sniffed my hand, then very slowly moved forward, inviting me to scratch the top of her snout and the back of her head… Leathery, soft, covered with sea moss, and warm…
Hey, I may be easy to amuse, but damn that was cool!
I don’t care who you are: Sea. Cows. Rock!