Some of the critters in the water at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park north of Tampa. I made my annual winter trip in mid-January, hoping to see manatees along the river but the weather had warmed up for a few day and the manatees had scattered around the area.
Yes, this guy was on the other side of the glass. You usually see them sleeping in the back with their eyes closed.
It seemed to be mating day that morning. Both pelicans and some wild vultures were getting frisky in the warm weather.
It was too hot to be outside in the middle of August so I headed indoors to the Florida Aquarium. It was nice to walk around and take pictures in air conditioning. I cheated and took all of these in Auto program mode (with no flash) since the Aquarium was going to be way to crowded to be using a tripod. Even 10 minutes after the doors opened, kids were running into me. It was still a fun morning and I walked around for about 2 hours.
You can barely make out my reflection in the above. Even without using flash, there’s a slight light that shines for a second while focusing. Trying to use regular flash against this thick glass is crazy. You’re only going to get a big white light across your pictures. You also have to watch for shadows and reflections on the glass which is apparent in the above. I was able to keep other people’s reflections out of most of the pictures.
The rare hybrid great blue heron/great egret was sporting his breeding colors back in early April. I did not change or enhance the color in his face, only cropped the pictures up. He looks more like a great egret now but they have bright green around the beak during breeding season. Great blue herons get a little blue around the eyes. He or she looks like he’s ready for a mate. I didn’t see him the last 2 times I was at the pier so maybe he’s on a nest.
Snowy egrets were stealing bait fish from the fishermen. The cormorant scored a big one for lunch.
Showing off on the light post.
Pelicans and frigatebirds were flying by.
Out past the fishing pier, the utility tower had broken off during Hurricane Irma. The broken tower is still laying below the water. People started swimming out to it and the lifeguards had to swim out and yell for them to come back to shore. Not knowing if they were strong swimmers, the lifeguards wouldn’t want them to get out too far into the shipping channels where the big boats come in.
From far away it looks like big rocks out there in the water. They were really manatees.
It’s not often you can get this close to manatees. At Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park you can see them up close on a bridge that crosses over Homosassa River where the wild manatees congregate in the winter. The water is crystal clear so you can really see the details on these big sea cows.
They were staying close together keeping warm. It had been cold for a few days but the water in the springs stays much warmer.
When they come up for air you can really see their faces.
There are tour guides that take you down the river and swim in the area that the manatees are hanging out. The tours are heavily monitored by volunteers to make sure the people don’t bother the manatees if they are in the no-swim zone. I’d rather just let the manatees stay wild and admire them from the bridge. There were over 20 boats by lunch time.
“Fishies” swimming by the underwater observation window.