A very cool moth

After briefly seeing a hummingbird moth at the Botanical Gardens in Largo, I went back the next week to see if I could find it again. This time there were several in the butterfly garden. They are amazing creatures, almost fairytale like. Before seeing them here this spring, I had only seen them once before so they are not common. I took a lot of pictures and couldn’t decide on just one or two so I posted my favorites.

My Corner of the World

The dolphin show is back open.

I wouldn’t want to be walking around down there right now with that big stingray cruising around. It’s time to do the stingray shuffle in the water so they scoot away and you don’t step on them. Although it’s really the little ones you have to worry about because it’s hard to see those little guys half buried in the sand.

There were lots of dolphins swimming around the fishing pier in early May. It’s hard to catch a fish here when the dolphins are chasing after your catch. They usually steal it before the fishermen have had time to reel the fish in.

From the bay pier you can see dog beach. Zooming in, I could see the dogs running in the water. The dogs were probably happy to be back out at the beach again after the park being closed for 8 weeks.

SkyWatch Friday

A quiet Saturday morning.

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.

SkyWatch Friday

Seeing the tees up close.

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.

Manatee mosh pit

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.

A girl and her manatee

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.

My Corner of the World

 

More from MOTE Aquarium

It’s not often you get this close to a shark.  Above are some of the bigger things under water at MOTE Aquarium in Sarasota.

The Aquarium rehabilitates and houses permanently injured turtles, manatees and dolphins. The turtle above was missing an eye.

We don’t have crocodiles in the Tampa Bay area, at least not yet. They can be found in areas much farther south including the Everglades. I’ve never seen one out in wild. They look very comical, almost like a cartoon.

Pretty flowers in the water at aquarium.

My Corner of the World

Upclose with the fish.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota is more than just a bunch of fish in tanks. They are a “nonprofit marine research institution comprised of world-class marine scientists committed to the belief that the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans begins with research and education.” They do a lot of work with injured marine life and study the impact of red tide. While my sisters were here visiting over Thanksgiving weekend, we drove down to Sarasota (a little more than an hour from my house in Tampa) to visit the aquarium, have lunch somewhere fun and stop by the outlet mall on the way home. It was a busy day. It was fun seeing all of the fishies to start the morning.