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.
I rarely see these guys moving around.
The koala bears are so cute but the glare on window makes it impossible to get a decent picture of them.
The elephants were eating.
It’s rare to see the otters close to the glass but this one was right in front.
The rhino pausing at the pool.
More up close with the manatees. I always take a ton of pictures when I’m there.
I recently hurt my shoulder (tendonitis) and was hurting one weekend but I still wanted to get out for a walk so I went over to the zoo with only my phone. I had a fun morning running around without all of my camera stuff.
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.
After a really cold week, I headed over to the TECO (Tampa Electric Co) plant to see the manatees that hang out there in the winter. The warm water coming off the electric plant in the lagoon keeps the manatees warm during the coldest weeks. Years ago, the plant built a manatee viewing center with a big deck that wraps around part of the lagoon. All of those dots in the water are manatees. There were hundreds of them the morning I was there in late January.
The plant says that the smoke coming out of the stack is actually clean steam. It doesn’t feel smoky when you are there and the sky was clear blue.
Part of the deck overlooking the lagoon. This was still early in the day before the big crowds get here. I got here well before they opened at 10am and waiting in line to park and was out before lunch. They can get crazy crowded and parking is a challenge when the manatees are here in large numbers. The news channels report on them when there’s been a prolonged cold spell so everyone heads over including me.
Some of the birds around the plant. White pelicans were flying high, a young night heron flew by the deck and a vulture was sitting on a platform built for an osprey nest.
Down at the very end of the lagoon, it’s roped off so boaters or kayakers cannot follow the manatees into the area. There is no swimming with the manatees here.
There’s usually some stingrays splashing around.
I took a ton of manatee pictures so more to come on those.
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.