Today we began with Manatees and ended with a manatee-sized load of food from Costco.
My pictures of manatees were all of their back as they came up for air so I took a picture from the literature that the park volunteer handed out to us.
Manatees are a large plant eating mammal which lives in the brackish water around Florida. It weighs around 1000 lbs and is about 10’ long.
The female gives birth to a calf weighing 60 - 8- lbs and is pregnant for 13 months. Holy Cow. They like warm water (anything less than 68 degrees can cause hypothermia) and that is why we headed over to the Florida Power and Light to see these neat creatures. Best place to see manatees in Fort Myers - an electric company. It started in 1958 when the power company opened, needed a place to drain its warm water and dredged a canal to an ocean connection through what had been a sand pile. Somehow manatees found it and frolicked here in early mornings when it was a bit cold outside.
Tourists then flocked to the spot which really was just a heap of sand with no parking lot, no walkways and no railings along the canal. When the city saw how popular this spot was and how dangerous it might be, they build a park - and charged a parking fee. Today, we arrived early when there were still lots of spots in the lot but, when we left, people were scrambling to find a spot.
Did we see manatees? Oh, my so many that it was hard to count them all. Some were frolicking ( I understand this was probably a prelude to mating - one male and lots of females) up near the water exiting from the power plant, some were lazily eating and hanging around for us tourists near the viewing area and others were lazily swimming out towards the ocean where they could eat - more.
There was a cute mama and baby combination off to the right in this picture - both coming up for air at the same time.
We saw the propeller markings on the back of this one. Boats are one of the greatest threats to manatees.
We then stayed for a short talk on manatees and learned a lot. Their brains are not too big and are smooth, lacking the ‘folds’ that are associated with higher intelligence in other mammals. We also read this phrase in the literature the volunteer passed out: ‘The urinary bladder stores urine until it is advantageous to dump it into the environment.’ ‘Advantageous?’ What do they mean by that?
Next we went to Camping World where Gary had some questions about water heaters and followed that up with a hike through the 6 Mile Slough (pronounced ‘slew’). The trail is through a wetlands area and thus was a boardwalk with railings. Lots of birds, alligators and we even heard some wild pigs munching as they approached us. I got only a butt shot (my usual) but it was neat hearing them.
Another one approached us but then another guy came up and yelled to his family, ‘ Hey, Don, come over here, there’s a pig.’ Of course the pigs ran the other way and he then yelled ‘Don’t bother, they ran away.’ I wonder why.
We did see Woody Woodpecker (a pileated woodpecker) making his mark.
Our final stop was Costco, our first since we left Des Moines. I and went into my usual ‘we’re going to the wilderness for months and I’d better have as much food as I can fit into my pantry to sustain us for so long.’ Well, actually we’re going to the Everglades NP for a week, hardly months. And, we can look up and see planes in a landing pattern for the Miami airport - we’re hardly away from civilization.
As I roam the aisles I wonder about such things as: will I have enough walnuts to last? Strange question, you think, but you do not know my sweet hugga bunch’s love of walnuts. He has walnuts on his cereal treat at night before bed - but sometimes I think the treat is actually walnuts and he just adds a little cereal and milk to vary the taste. I’ve got two 3-lb bags of walnuts and for good measure, I added 2 bags of craisins - not those little bags, mind you, but 4-lb bags. I just read this paragraph to him and, luckily he’s brushing his teeth and can’t comment.
We finally escaped with money still in our check book and headed back to the park. It had been a fun but long day.