Thursday, December 30, 2010

Manatees Struggle with Cold Temps in Florida


The recent cold snap has proven to be a big challenge for Florida's endangered manatees. NBC News recently reported on efforts to help keep these gentle giants warm:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/vp/40845815#40845815

Each year, the Tennessee Aquarium offers a chance to meet some of these incredible animals. This year, the Snorkel with the Manatees Weekend is scheduled for Friday, January 28th to Sunday, January 30th. It is truly an awe-inspiring weekend.


The excursion begins with a Friday night departure, giving everyone a chance to get some shut-eye en-route to Florida. When you wake up, it's time for a hearty breakfast before drift-snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of the slow-moving Rainbow River. You'll be amazed at the size and number of gars, turtles and other aquatic animals you'll see on this stretch of water.
Next it's off to visit the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, home to manatees, alligators, birds and other fantastic animals such as "Lu," the park's lovable hippopotamus.



If you're lucky, you'll get to hear Lu "laughing" or see him enjoying the gentle spray from a hose. He'll open wide for this.

Strolling through the park is worth the trip and the staff does a tremendous job during narrated programs several times each day. Make sure you stop by the underwater viewing window to observe the fish and manatees. Learn more about this wonderful park here: http://www.hswsp.com/main.html


On Sunday, Tennessee Aquarium senior aquarist Rob Mottice leads the group to a special location within the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge to snorkel with the manatees. Rob is an expert on the West Indian manatee and he works diligently to ensure the safety of these protected creatures while everyone is in the water with them.
It's difficult to describe your first encounter with a manatee. These guys are HUGE! Frequently they will slowly ease up to you in the water, looking you directly in the eye. These face to face encounters inspire many people to contribute to the agencies that are working to save these animals from extinction.



Over the years there has been real progress, but manatees still face challenges such as boat strikes. Sadly, many of these animals are scarred from boat propellers that have torn deep gashes in their backs.




Manatees can grow to 13 feet in length, occasionally tipping the scales at more than 3,000 pounds. While you're in the water, make sure you listen carefully. These creatures communicate with squeaks and squeals. Sometimes they vocalize when playing, excited or frightened. Often, the sounds you hear are a mother manatee calling to its calf.



Magical may be the word that best describes being in the water with these remarkable animals. Hopefully conservation efforts will be able to save them from disappearing forever.


To learn more about the Tennessee Aquarium's Travel Adventures like the Snorkel with the Manatees Weekend, go to: http://www.tnaqua.org/Events/TravelAdventures.aspx






1 comment:

Johnson Smith said...

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