Today, we went to look for manatees, but had to plan our day around Leslie’s work schedule. So we first stopped at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, and found lots of Florida wildlife (the first four pictures). We then literally walked over to the Homosassa River and found two dozen manatees.
For those of you who are not biologists, manatees are aquatic mammals that have a large, streamlined body, flipper-like front limbs, and a rounded, horizontal flipper-tail. Although they may resemble whales and dolphins in some ways, the are in fact more closely related to elephants. And. since manatees lives in the water and feed only on aquatic plants, they are restricted to coastlines, seas, and rivers where the water is clear and shallow enough for sunlight to penetrate and support plant growth. A diet of aquatic plants places unique demands on manatees and their behavior and physiology reflects this. Since aquatic plants are low in nutrients, manatees must spend between 6 and 8 hours a day feeding. They consume up somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of their body weight each day (and a large adult animal can weigh as much as 220 lbs).
In the 2nd and 3rd manatee pictures you can see moms and their babies. We got lucky to see babies, since manatees can only give birth every five years, and the birth cycle is 13 months.