These aquatic mammals must surface for air every three - five minutes. The full grown adults weigh approximately 1,000 pounds and grows to a length of about 10 feet. The average female reproduces once every two - three years. This slow reproductive rate coupled with the encroachment of humans on their natural habitat threaten its survival.
Threats to the Manatee*
- Extensive development of coastal lands which affects manatee feeding grounds.
- Irresponsible recreational and commercial boating practices.
- Poor water quality from civic, industrial, commercial, and agricultural affluent.
- Alteration of wetlands for dredge and fill operations; chanalization of rivers, streams, and other changes to fresh-waterflow.
The Columbus Zoo is one of the few manatee rehabilitation facilities in the US. The Manatee Coast Exhibit is one of the zoo's most popular. Currently, I believe the zoo has four juveniles they are rehabilitating. Most of them have scars on their back from boat propellers.
Fort Pierce, Florida is a popular manatee destination during the winter months, typically December - March. The manatees congregate in Moore's Creek to keep warm when surrounding waters drop below 62 degrees. The Fort Pierce Utilities Authority operates a power plant near the Manatee Observation and Education Center and uses water from Moore's creek to cool the pipes in the power plant. As the water leaves the plant and back into the creek, it is 7 degrees warmer than the surrounding water. When the weather becomes warmer, the manatees travel out of the creek and will visit the rest of the year to drink fresh water.
On my latest trip to Fort Pierce, we were down at the marina for the farmers market when Melanie spotted a pod of manatees. This was so exciting for me and I tried to get some good shots of them when they surfaced.
Please visit the Manatee Observation and Education Center for ways you can help these wonderful creatures.
Please join me at Mosaic Monday, Blue Monday, Outdoor Wednesdays, and Watery Wednesdays.