Leap Day Manatees

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Leap Day! It’s a phenomena that happens every four years at the end of February to keep our calendars on point. I look on it as an “extra” or “bonus” day, and who doesn’t need an extra day! ?

This Leap Day 2016 I wanted to use my day to go see what the manatees were up to. You may know I had a very lucky Leap Day in 2008 when I happened upon a newborn manatee in front of Three Sisters Springs. But more about that later… See, I also wanted to see the manatees on Leap Day 2012, although it was so hot so early, that the manatees had already skedaddled out of the springs to warmer, more food-rich waters. Thus I was determined to spend February 29, 2016, this recent past Leap Day, observing manatees as I felt it would be another lucky day. I was right!

A Female Manatee Is Quite Curious About The Company and Poses Along With A Friend! Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River. Leap Day, February 29, 2016.manatee,friend,curiosity,peaceful,©CGrant

It wasn’t just this adorable gal manatee who came out of the manatee-only resting area to see what we were all about…, there were many manatees in clear, blue water on this lucky Leap Day. Here’s a sampling:

Usually It’s The Calves Who Are More Curious, But This Mother Manatee Looked Pretty Happy About Their Leap Day!mother manatee,curious,smiling,blue water,©CGrant

Lit by a colorful spectrum of rainbow light-rays in clear blue water over Big Sister Spring, this mom and calf were full of vim and vigor! I delight in seeing mothers and their calves and near the end of manatee season is a fruitful time to spy them. The mothers are keeping close tabs on their youngsters who are usually big enough to get distracted by all the interesting things the springs have to offer. Little manatees need to stay with their mothers as their care doesn’t end till they are nearly two years old! Learning how to navigate back to the gulf waters, what type of plants to eat and still nursing takes a lot of time and attention. Manatee mothers are so amazing!

This Mother and Calf Pair Looks Inseparable In The Warming Sunlight While They Navigate Past Submerged Cypress Roots. Leap Day, February 29, 2016.manatees,mom and calf,sunlight,©CGrant

Manatee calves follow their mothers closely and many times breathe simultaniously. Here is a pair from earlier in the day on Leap Day 2016 near the entrance to Three Sisters Springs. On days like this when the water levels are fairly consistent, manatees will swim in and out of the springs at will. This was nice for those of us observing because the manatees did not stay in their manatee-only resting areas for long, but chose to swim in and out of the springs on their own schedules, often saying “hello” along the way.

Manatee Mother and Calf Take Breaths Together Near The Spring Run Simultaneously. Leap Day, February 29, 2016.manatees,mother and calf,breath,©CGrant

We treasure this blue spring water and I think the manatees do also. Yes, this is the color of the springs, but due to a number of very strong windy periods that started with gale-force warnings, this lovely blue had been somewhat scarce up until this lucky Leap Day!

An Older Manatee Calf Takes A Breath In The Strong Florida Sunlight While Swimming With Mom In Clear Blue Spring Water. Leap Day, February 29, 2016.manatees,mother and calf,blue water,©Grant

Now, I did say I would share a little from my lucky Leap Day 2008! I’ve relayed the story quite a bit so I’ll just show two photographs of the cute little newborn Angel. His story is told in a series of photographs I have on my website here. Be sure to read the information caption data to get the full story:

Angel the Newborn Manatee Leap Day 2008 – 30 images

A Documented Newborn Manatee Finds His First Day of Life Eventful! I Named Him Angel. Outside Three Sisters Springs, Leap Day, February 29, 2008.manatee newborn,calf,mother,©CGrant

The Word “Leap” May Have Been Taken Too Literally As Other Curious Manatees Try To Acquire The Little Newborn (see Angel’s Story in 30 images at the link above). In Front Of The Manatee Sanctuary Outside Three Sisters Springs, Leap Day, February 29, 2008.manatee newborn,calf,mother,©CGrant

Thank You lucky Leap Days for these memorable manatee moments! What’s even better than being enthralled by the manatee’s antics is sharing it with good friends!

This Curious Female Manatee Seemed Very Taken With The Cameras. She Came Out Of The Resting Area To Check Us Out! Leap Day, February 29, 2016.posing manatee,photographer,friends,blue water,©CGrant

That is my friend Captain Stacy Dunn with the camera and our friend Denise next to her. In fact we are all gals here, humans and sirenian!

I Wish I Was Like This Girl Manatee and I Couldn’t Take A Bad Photograph!manatee,female,pretty,©CGrant

I’ll Close With This Lucky Leap Day Scene Showing Gorgeous Big Sister Spring With A Mother and Calf, Another Adult Manatee and Scores Of Mangrove Snapper (a.k.a Gray Snapper). February 29, 2016.manatees,springs,©CGrant

I’m gobsmacked! I wonder what next Leap Day 2020 will bring?

Best, Carol