BIG—Manatee Appreciation 

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For this Manatee Appreciation Day I want to spread a little warm cheer that’s so much needed at this time. I’m going to tell you the story of these giant manatee buddies from the building in Chicago.

Manatees greeted Chicagoans this past winter. Photo courtesy Crystal River Boat Builders Photo credit:  ©️Donna MartinManatees,building,Chicago,

When I saw this photograph posted by the Crystal River Boat Builders on Facebook, I knew it was my photograph of two of my favorite manatees but I didn’t know who was behind it? I asked a friend in Crystal River and she said she didn’t know and that it was probably “rogue art”. But then I discovered it was the folks at Visit Florida who deserve the credit, specifically: SPARK –Visit Florida’s Agency with an office near us in Tampa, Florida.

I don’t know if the manatees are still greeting folks in the Windy City currently, but this past winter they sure were. I think it’s way cool! I wanted to go visit it and maybe if they show up again sometime I will!

Here’s the original photograph of the two manatee buddies that was enlarged to building size in Chicago. Is it painted on brick or applied as adhesive sign material? I’m not sure, but either way it’s spectacular! Manatee Buddies, March 4, 2013, Three Sisters Spring, Crystal River, Florida.manatees, play,Florida,springs

Would you like to know more about them? I’ve combed through the photos from March 4, 2013 and have a good idea of what’s going on.

The manatee on the left is quite the gregarious poser! He was not only huge on the building but was in two other magazines as well. What a manatee star!

Manatee Buddy #1 (let’s call him “Buddy”) also posing in my Days Japan article in 2015. Doesn’t he look cool next to the Japanese characters?

Yes, it is the same supermodel manatee, Buddy, on the cover of the official 2013 Visitors Guide, Citrus County—including Crystal River. 

There were plentiful playful manatees on March 4, 2013. Buddy is an older calf and was in the springs with his mother for several hours. But the manatee pal to the right of Buddy is not his mother. It’s a younger female manatee, not a calf but probably a young adult. Let’s call her “Friendly”. She didn’t hang around the springs as long as Buddy but when she was there she and Buddy bonded. Buddy might be at the point where he needs to be weaned and leave his mom? Or sometimes female manatees can show attentiveness to other calves? Regardless, the two’s connection is obvious.

Buddy makes tactile contact with his female manatee acquaintance Friendly.

manatees, touch,springs,

Buddy seemed very busy in the springs, all while his mother slept nearby. Here he has found a wonderful rock and is chewing on it! That’s Friendly again, on our right.manatees, play,Florida,springs

Definitely a bond between manatees! Friendly gives Buddy a smoochmanatees, smooch,Florida,springs

Friendly left the springs shortly after this but Buddy stayed and explored away. About an hour later here’s Buddy investigating the cypress tree roots near the spring run.manatee, curious,tree,springs

Buddy’s mom did check in on him from time to time. Buddy rested next to her for a little bit and nursed a couple of times. The knowledgeable manatee researcher Dr. Bob Bonde once likened manatee mother’s rich milk to “Red Bull for calves”. That’s why many manatee youngsters have so much energy. Luckily, there are tons of fascinating things to learn and explore in the Siren’s underwater world!

Buddy’s mom is on the right in this photograph, he’s the curious one on our left. She’s done such a good job, for about two years, raising a fat gregarious calf that’s anxious to make his mark in the manatee underwater world!manatees, mother,calf

Later on Buddy’s mom nurses him. See how big Buddy is? He would be striking out on his own soon. It was a peaceful March day for the manatees with hardly any visitors.

Buddy nurses. That’s where he gets his enormous energy!manatees, mom,calf,springs

From Three Sisters Springs to a tall building in Chicago and beyond, what an adventure these two manatee buddies have had! All while promoting the welfare of manatees far and wide. Who couldn’t have strong feelings to help and protect these charismatic and beloved Florida treasures?

I hope this has put a grin on everyone’s face as it is sorely needed now. Thanks for reading!

Best, Carol