Manatee Babysitter

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Thanksgiving brings everyone together, so inevitably sometimes there appears the odd “unwelcome guest”, also known as “The Guest Who Would Never Leave”. This happens in manateeland too, and here is their day-before-Thanksgiving story.

If you have gone to see manatees you know it’s been difficult to observe them lately because it’s so unseasonably warm. That’s good for manatees though, warmth assures they have extra opportunities to feed, take care of their calves and socialize before the winter cool down when they gather at the springs.

Theo and I went on Wednesday the day before Thanksgiving. I knew it would be a 50/50 chance of seeing manatees in the clearer springs at Crystal  River. But we gave it a go and hoped for good luck!

male manatee, mom and calf, springs Surprise! Early arrivals! An eager male manatee chases an algae-covered mom and calf at Three Sisters Springs.

Manatees arrived earlier than I predicted, but fortunately I know this can occur so we were ready. And little did I know we would witness a bit of manatee drama. 

Male manatee, mom and calf, springs First look at a male manatee pursuing a female and calf near the back manatee resting area.

Manatee mom abd calf, male manatee, Cousteau. posts, Three Sisters Springs The male (not covered in algae) kept driving the female and her calf out of several areas of the springs. Here mom plops down near the historic Cousteau posts. The manatee mother also seemed to be showing her calf different landmarks at Three Sisters Springs.

I wouldn’t say mom manatee was worried about the male much, just sort of mildly irritated and protecting her calf from him much of the time.

 Mom manatee’s second or third trip into the springs, flanked by the pesky male she couldn’t seem to shake.

Manatee mom, calf, male, Three Sisters Springs Mr. Manatee impedes mom and calf near the front resting area.

Manatee male, mom, calf, springs Nothing like the guest who is always in the way!

Manatee mom, calf, male, springs Mr. Male Manatee making mom lead Jr. somewhere else. Oh well, it’s too cold in the front resting area anyway…

Manatee mother, male calf Mom giving Jr. a reassuring flipper hug. They again left the springs, apparently because of the chasing male. Although sometimes females swim their offspring in and out to familiarize them with the springs.

Later on the mother manatee along with her son entered the springs again. She seemed to have a different strategy?

Manatee calf, breath, mom, red algae
I love the pair’s early-season red algae! Here Jr. is taking a breath and mom is swimming towards the back where, by chance, the bothersome male is amongst the tree roots…, hmmm?

Mom settled down to rest in the back spring and then unleashed her son on the irritating male. I guess she thought if he won’t leave then he can babysit!

Manatee male, calf, springsThe chasing male now gets saddled with looking after the female he was bothering’s male calf. Babysitting!

Manatee male, calf, exploring, springs “Hey, babysitting is not what I had in mind…”

Manatee male “I don’t want that kind of responsibility.”

Manatee male, blue spring, snorkeler After a little rain shower passed our guest male manatee says, “No strings attached! I just want to float over this clear warm spring and hang out! No babysitting responsibilities!” That’s also my husband Theo observing and participating in the free and easy no-strings lifestyle… 😎

 “This is the life! No responsibility! Just hanging out in the warm rainbow sun rays!”

After we left the springs and got dry Theo and I went out for Chinese… Yum! I have a feeling mom manatee was not bothered further by her unwanted Mr. Male Manatee guest. Her kid just seemed like a little too much responsibility for him… I think the mom got some nice well-deserved Thanksgiving rest and relaxation! 😴

Best, Carol