Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Visiting Manatees

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

We spent our day driving around Tampa Bay, literally. We took the long way, over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and up the east side with a stop at Apollo Beach for lunch at a place called Circles, which was very good, but the food could have been more spicy to fit my spice-craving Colorado tastebuds. I ordered the Nut-Crusted Grouper that advertised a Chili sauce, and I was thinking hot Thai Chili sauce. Oh, well, get over it, Mary!

The next stop was at the Big Bend Power Plant where manatees love the warmer water generated by the plant in the winter. A sign posted there said that many manatees had been saved by these warm waters and those of the natural springs whose temperatures year-round stay somewhere just above 70 degrees, as I remember. The temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico this month have been as low as 56 degrees Fahrenheit during a recent cold snap. When the Gulf temperatures fall, manatees move to these warmer areas. They can't live in cold water.

Our favorite area to see manatees is up by Homosassa Springs, but this was a day for a short trip. One big problem for these huge mammals, also called Sea Cows, is when they migrate inland up the rivers to the natural springs, they are clipped by boat propellers when boaters are not extremely careful. Manatees need to come to the surface to breathe, doing what they do naturally, but many boaters forget about them. It is, in fact, hard to avoid them. As my picture shows, this one has come to the top of the water for its breath and a large portion of its body is close to the surface of the water. Here at the power plant, there are no boats, but that isn't true in the rivers and bays around here.

I've seen lots of bumper stickers that say, "Look out for motorcycles - they're everywhere." Just a reminder for boaters, "Watch out for the manatees." They could be anywhere in the shallow areas this time of the year.

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