Max the Munching Manatee Calf

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Little manatees are truly special! Seeing them in the clear blue waters of Florida’s freshwater springs is indeed magical.

My second encounter with this robust little male calf occurred two days ago on a “lucky” Friday the 13th. I’ll call this calf “Max” for our narrative, as we don’t know what his mother calls him? 🙂

[Note: These color photographs were taken two days before the current USFWS sanctuary closures went into effect Nov.15-March 31 at Three Sisters Springs.]

Max the Munching Manatee takes a breath. You may be able to see a few blades of aquatic grass hanging from his snout. Nov. 13, 2015.manatee calf,Three Sisters Springs,©

Max diving down for more munching! Nov. 13, 2015.manatee calf, Three Sisters Springs, ©

During the peak winter season when manatees gather in the warm springs there are hardly any blades of tasty greens left… That is, of course, due to many many munching manatees! Little Max’s mom must have given him the heads up where tasty bits are to be found early in the season.

Yes, you who have been in the lovely waters of Three Sisters Springs will recognize more and more lyngbya algae. Fortunately, near the springheads the lyngbya can’t take over and substantial bunches of aquatic grasses can still grow.

Max forages for mouthfuls of aquatic grass despite early season lyngbya algae. Nov. 13, 2015.manatee calf, Three Sisters Springs, ©

Where’s Max? Ah, he found a tasty clump near one of the springheads. Look right near the blue water outflow. Nov. 13, 2015.manatee calf, Three Sisters Springs, ©

Max takes a breath. Fall in Florida! Nov. 13, 2015.manatee calf, Three Sisters Springs, ©

Did you know that Max is also a bit of a celebrity? On Wednesday, October 28, the manatee researcher and author Dr. Bob Bonde saw this calf and his mother. I’m certain Max was the equivalent of the human emotion “stoked” as Bob Bonde is every manatee’s best friend!

Munching Max with his mom on October 28, 2015, when Dr. Bonde saw them outside the springs.
manatee mom and calf, Three Sisters Springs, ©

Max has identifying marks despite the perspective differences in the black and white photograph and this color one in the springs. The horizontal mark behind his left eye is evident in both photographs. Nov. 13, 2015.manatee calf, Three Sisters Springs, ©

I hope you enjoyed this lucky encounter with Max. I must add, some other snorkelers saw Max eating and were very polite. He didn’t even stop munching and was not disturbed.

Nice to see you again Max! Make sure you get lots of munching in before the big manatees arrive in force. Good Luck to you!

Best, Carol