As I was walking around Crescent Lake Park, this guy swam right in front of me and proceeded to chowing down on something he had caught under the water. Some type of crab or maybe a crawfish. He went down several times and was stuffing himself. He seemed to be showing off, chewing with his mouth wide open. He put on a show but never came up out of the water. I stepped back and hid behind a tree for a while hoping he would come on the grass but he eventually started swimming over to the other side of the lake.
He checked out this drink can and played with it a few minutes.
He popped up in the middle of the spadderdock plant and had another mouthful. This guy was having quite the feast. He checked me out for a few seconds before ducking back under the water.
Later, farther down the lake he was checking out a drain pipe. At this point I lost track of him so I finished my walk around the lake.
Different herons down the trail, A great blue, tricolored, a night heron and then another tricolored almost swimming.
Turtle on the trail.
Why do always get the butt shot pose? I almost never see these guys walking around and when I do they have their back to me. Usually I just see the below, snoozing and cruising.
All along the trail.
Trees and flowers along the trail.
Teeny critters at Kapok Park.
There’s always a lot of turtles under the boardwalk.
Great trees at the park including the first one with the roots half exposed. It’s been living that way for years.
Another “just being outside” shot at Kapok Park in mid-April.
I stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier at the end of March and got lucky seeing manatees. I usually see them most of the time but occasionally they are a no show. This time there were several together close to the pier. They were rolling around as they cruised by.
A few of the birds flying by the pier and a pelican sitting in the mangroves.
This family was already starting the social distancing thing. Kayaking out to a spit.
There was hardly anyone on the pier and I sat for a while taking in the quiet staring at Tampa far off in the distance.
The yacht basin next to the pier.
Zooming in on the manatees at the Tampa Electric Plant. I caught several of them turning over and floating on their back.
Coming up for air close to the viewing deck.
Many of them had boat scars, algae or barnacles on their backs.
All of those bumps in the water are manatees, staying warm where the warm water comes out of the electric plant. Taken with my phone, you can really see just how many of them are out there.
Tons of manatees all huddled together to keep warm at the electric plant. It was a challenge to get good clear shots of them because the warm water coming out of the plant was creating foam that was floating around and the reflection of the plant on the water. The water was clear but the lagoon sits right under the plant so the big stacks on the plant were causing some reflection.
Many of them had barnacles on their back which I’ve read is harmless for them.
Some of them had very distinct boat strike markings. Manatees are very slow moving animals and if boaters are going too fast in the “no wake” or slow wake” zones, they can hit the manatees.
Manatee tail flopping.
Taken with my phone, you can see the shadows of the people on the deck.
The water in the open bay was close to 60 degrees while the water in the lagoon was 72 degrees.
Watching the fish go by in the underwater viewing deck at Homosassa Springs Park.
Wild manatees close to the dock including the bottom one that was nursing 2 babies. The top one had algae growing all over his body so he must be pretty old.
Usually underwater, the gators were taking a nap in the sun.
Just outside of the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park, you can go on a tour to swim with in the river where the manatees hang out. There are many roped off areas that you cannot enter so the manatees can get away from the humans if they want to. There’s a dock inside the park that looks over this area and this is where I spent part of a recent Saturday morning watching the manatees swim by. A young girl was hanging out close to the dock and a manatee swam right up to her.
She wasn’t moving and the manatee came right up to her and bumped her in the face. He definitely wanted a scratch. She would scratch him for a few minutes and he would swim away but then come back again several times. It was pretty amazing to watch and I know she had to be so excited for this encounter.
At one point another manatee started swimming back and forth against her flipper like he was using it as a scratching post.
What a great memory for her.
There are manatee patrols out keeping an eye on things to make sure no one is chasing the manatees or the area doesn’t get too crowded. They are all volunteers and I would think “What a great job” but they probably have to deal with some unsavory people at time. Probably not everyone is as respectful as the girl was with the manatees. I’m not a big fan of people being allowed to swim in the same area with them but it was great even being out on the dock watching the girl and her manatee.