There is a narrow mangrove channel near where we are anchored that opens into a small lagoon that is home to a number of manatees. On our recent visit, we saw three; a couple we spoke to this afternoon saw six manatees in total.
We took our dinghy to the lagoon the other morning, cut our small outboard engine once in, and rowed around the small area. A dolphin swam across in front of us, then we saw a telltale swirl in the corner of the lagoon, closest to the channel. And then the show began. First one, then two large brown humps appeared on the surface, water swirling past their huge bodies as they moved across the lagoon, closer to where we were drifting in our small dinghy. At one point, three manatee heads lifted in unison (think synchronized swimming!) as they swam around the lagoon, coming within just a few feet of us. These slow, graceful animals are huge, and as we drifted back toward the mangrove channel, one manatee came quite close to us. We became a bit uncomfortable with their familiarity and friendliness toward us, though we’ve never heard of a manatee upending a dinghy. Still, what an incredible experience this was, seeing manatees in such a natural habitat. My goal this winter has been met many fold!