Manatee Page by Cindy McIntyre, Waldoboro, Maine -March 2008
Manatee Observation Area, Tampa Electric Company's discharge site, where the water was much warmer than the 69 degree March Gulf waters. It attracts manatees for that reason. Many of them bear scars on their bodies or tails from propeller cuts when boats ran over them. They move slowly and don't get out of the way quickly enough. Many of them are killed in this way, and manatee zones try to keep boaters on the alert for them.
Another viewing area is on the Merritt Island refuge near Cape Canaveral. About seven manatees could be seen at any one time, browsing the water vegetation along the shore. The calf, above, was in Tampa with its mother. These endangered mammals are found in many areas of Florida.
Most of the time you just see their noses as they come up for air, or their paddle-shaped tails as they dive.
This long scar may be from boat's propellor. Researchers know most of these gentle creatures by name, based on their scars and other features. If you take a snorkel trip in the Crystal River where the springs are, you can see them face to face, in crystal clear water.
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