Gentle Giants – an experience with Manatees

Saturday 28th of December 2019

Good morning to another day of our east-coast trip. After eating a good and healthy breakfast at Haardy’s we went to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife state park, which is also one of the 700 springs located in Florida. We drove 20 minutes North to get there. At the entrance was a huge manatee statue and in the basement was a shop where you could buy shirts and other things about the animals that live in the park. We got to the main park by a 20 minutes boat tour on a river in middle of wildlife and interesting animals. At the park there were manatees, hippopotamus’, eagles, black bear, the Florida panther, owls and a lot of very nice looking and interesting birds. I liked the park because it wasn’t like a normal zoo because there were a lot of birds and other animal walking or swimming in the park in not in a cage. We could see one of the rare exemplars of the Florida panther, which is almost extinct. The manatees were one of our highlights at the park. There was a little show and the man that held the show said also that manatees, which are usually between 1000 kg and 1500 kg and they need to eat 1/10 of their weight every day. They have also less than 10 % bodyfat because nearly all the space in their body is their stomach and their lunges. At the park was also a little entrance to an observatory which was under water and where you could see the fish which lived in the river there. After that we went to get lunch. We ate lunch at Taco Bell, which is a very nice place for tacos for a small price. We ate also nice burritos which were filled with meat, salad and a nice sauce in a big chip from Dorito and another Tortilla outside. After this tasty meal we went to Crystal River to snorkel with some of the 800 manatees that live there. We had to wait 1h for the manatee tour and in this time, we walked a bit through the city and to a playground because my little sister wanted that. We made this tour with a company called “Fun 2 Dive”. The whole tour was well planned. We put our swim suits on and then we got wetsuits to avoid getting to cold in the water. After that we drove by van to the harbor and got on a little ship. This ship drove us to a little arm of the big Kings Bay at Crystal River. The whole arm was full of seaweeds which swam on the water surface

because they normally grow on the ground but if the manatees eat, they left some and then the seaweeds swim above. Getting there we saw two manatees. A big and a small one. The small one was about seven months old, which could be seen at the size of the tail of them. Seeing these gentle giants is a very fantastic experience. Although I saw them at the Homosassa park before, they seemed huge. They can get up to 4m long and about 1500 kg heavy. Manatees are the most peaceful creatures on our planet and sometimes it happens also that manatees give you a hug. But the best thing is that the manatee population in Florida has grown from 1.000 animals to over 8.000 because of strict laws. I was about 2h in the water, swimming with the manatees and making videos and photos (and also some maneeSelfies) with our GoPro, but sadly the water was not very clear and that’s the reason why the photos are a bit muddy. Our whole family loved the tour and we truly recommend this tour to everybody who wants to have a look at the Florida wildlife. After this great experience we drove 1h and 30 minutes to Trinity where our hotel was located. Later on, we walked five minutes to a restaurant which was also a brewery and ate there. In the last days and in our last US trip I noticed very clear that the portions in the US are often way bigger than in Germany. Now I am very great full for this day and that I had the lifetime opportunity to have a very close look on one of the best animals in the whole world: The manatee.

Florida Panther

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