Experiencing our nation through its environments, animals, people and history.

Galatians 5:1

Saturday, November 28, 2009

West Indian Manatees, by Shayna

While we were up in Crystal River we met some wonderful new friends, who blessed us with a tour around the city and a trip to the Homasassa Wildlife Park (thank you Joyce and Barry!!)Homasossa Springs are one of the aproximately 600 natural springs found in the aquifer that covers all of Florida and most of its bordering states. Springs occur when an underground water system comes though a crack in the limstone bed. The water is a constant temperature and much warmer than the ocean, which is why Florida is an attractive spot for the migrating animals. Manatees come up into the rivers and canals and can be seen all over the Tampa area. Now here is Shayna, to tell you more!! (C)
Manatees are slow, gentle mammals, sometimes called Sea cows. These peaceful planteaters live around the West Indies, Amazon River, and West Africa. Not all know to migrate to warmer water in the winter, such as Florida, so many die from the cold water of the ocean. Unaware motor boats going thru manatee areas often hurt the slow moving manatee. Even though they are not prey to any species, they are endangered, as they only have one baby every two years. Like all sea mammals, manatees come to the surface to breathe. Their nostrils seal while they are underwater, and their lips can expand to eat. One of their relatives is the elephant, another is the dugong, which has a fluked tail like a whale, wheras manatees tails are rounded. Growing 10-13 feet long, manatees were mistaken as mermaids by sailors many years ago!
While we were at Homosassa, we also got to see other native Floridian animals- and one non-native Floridian resident, Lou. This Hippo was granted resident status and likes to scare people after he eats.
(We didn't get splattered, whew!) Great big hug out to Joyce and Barry for the trip, and please, turn off your engines, and don't feed or harm the manatees!

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