Wrinkles the Birthday Manatee

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Believe it or not, “I want more Wrinkles for my Birthday” said the 50-something year old lady. That’s me and that was my wish!? I have a tradition of setting out to observe manatees on my birthdays. This past February 11th I wondered what adventure awaited? Little did I know a very fat little male manatee calf with deep wrinkly folds that jiggled as he swam, was also in search of adventure! We met that day and here is his story in pictures and video:

I Have Seen Many Manatee Calves Underwater But “Wrinkles” Is Definitely One Of The Fattest! His Mom Feeds Him Well! Here He Is With Mom, Look At Those Fat Folds Of Wrinkles! Feb. 11th, 2016.manatee,Florida,calf,wrinkles,©CGrant

To celebrate my foray into Instagram, this photo and short video is the first thing I’m going to post @carolgrantinsta. Here’s the HD version of the video on Vimeo. Look at those precious deep fat wrinkly folds! Now that is a healthy male manatee calf – Well Done Mom!

Here’s Wrinkles! The Manatee Calf I Was Honored To Get To Know On My Birthday ?

Manatee calves stay with their mothers for up to two years! Big, fat, healthy calves like this one show just what good mothers manatees are. The sound is that of manatees “squeaking” or “chirping” as it has been described. Wrinkles isn’t contributing much, if anything, to the sound that is mostly background “Marco Polo” like squeaks used to locate one another. “Marco Polo” is an underwater location game human kids frequently play in the pool and manatees engage in something quite similar. Wrinkles hears the chirps, but it’s not his mom so he’s not concerned and goes about playing. After Wrinkles swam into the springs with his mom, she went for a well-deserved snooze. That left precocious Wrinkles to his own devices to play, as long as he didn’t stray too far. Here’s a sample of his eventful day:

Wrinkles Is Swimming Around Three Sisters Springs With His Mom While Quiet and Polite Human Observers Take It All In. Even Here On The Other Side Of Mom You Can See His Cute Fat Skin Folds That Jiggled As He Swam! Feb. 11th, 2016.manatee,Florida,calf,wrinkles,©CGrant

Wrinkles Is Playing While Mom Is Napping. The Hovering Adult Male Is a Manatee That Wrinkles Seemed To Socialize With. Feb. 11th, 2016.manatee,Florida,calf,wrinkles,©CGrant

Are there “Manatee Babysitters”? Maybe, not exactly as we know it, but I’ve observed young, full-of-energy calves hanging out and sometimes playing with adults that aren’t their mothers. In fact I wrote about it at this link from Thanksgiving 2015: Manatee Babysitter | Manatee Tales

Just Hanging Out With His Adult Male Friend – Wrinkles The Rotund Manatee Calf. Feb. 11th, 2016.manatee,Florida,calf,wrinkles,©CGrant

Oh Wrinkles! You made my Birthday! But there was another surprise in store…

This Festive Birthday Cake With One Of My Manatee Photographs Was Icing On The Cake! Thank You Meredith!Bday Cake Carol

Meredith and I At Our Favorite Thai Restaurant In Crystal River – Thai Phoon. This Was Soon After I Said Adieu To Wrinkles and Exited To Dry Land. As an Added Surprise Bonus My Friends Stacy and Mike Along With Other Friends Were Happenstance Guests!Carol and Meredith

I’d like to add something here about the manatee photograph of mine that Meredith used on the Birthday cake. Many of you know that image was licensed this year by Manatee Lagoon for their showcased website and advertising uses. I also have a swimming manatee photograph in their new Eco-center, two and one-half stories high! But that’s material for a separate post. Back to the “Kissing Manatees” photograph that is one of the most meaningful photographs I have ever taken. Why, you may ask? Read on…

“Manatee Kisses” Was Taken On Feb. 11th, 2011. That Was Days After I Finished Treatment For Breast Cancer. My Husband Said: “The Manatees Will Still Love You Because They Have Scars Too…” Fact Is, He Alerted Me To This Manatee Pair When I Was  Photographing Something Else! We Were The Only Ones Around… It Was Magic!manatee,kisses,Manatee Lagoon,©CGrant

Yes, we kayaked an extra distance this Feb. 11th, 2011, just to build up my strength after nearly a year of treatment for an aggressive Stage 3C breast cancer. I was thrilled to have made it through treatment and to have even visited the manatees throughout my radiation therapy (with Drs. OK and help). I’m relaying this story in hopes it will help anyone else, especially anyone who spends time actively underwater scuba diving or snorkeling. You CAN make it through and return to activities you love! There IS hope! Why this past birthday, Feb 11, 2016, and my friend’s choice of this photo on the cake was so meaningful is because it was almost exactly five years after the end of my breast cancer treatment. Five years cancer-free and the manatees I photographed five years before, just after completing treatment, greeted me on my Birthday Cake. You can’t make this stuff up! Truth is indeed much more compelling than fiction!

Now I see this photograph of the “Kissing Manatees” constantly on the Manatee Lagoon, Riviera Beach, Florida website and public events. Life is truly a gift to be savored and one really doesn’t know what excitement is in store around the next bend!

For all the gals and guys who’s love is underwater, a diagnosis of cancer can be significantly devastating as it requires one to abstain from many underwater activities for a period of time. I found swimming in the pool and reliving all the wonderful moments I’d had with underwater creatures – especially manatees – to be of great help. It was like I was diving and photographing underwater again! Also, when I was diagnosed I had trouble finding women divers and/or underwater photographers who were in a similar circumstance. I want to let you know you are not alone! Look at this, my friend and stellar underwater photographer/eleven-year breast cancer survivor Allison Vitsky has started a new non-profit called “Dive into the Pink”. The Facebook page is here: Dive into the Pink

Dive into the Pink | Facebook Page Link and Logo on Facebook. Help For Breast Cancer. Allison Kindly Sent Me a “Dive into the Pink” T-shirt. As I Photoed It My Cat Star Decided The Logo Was Completely On Point! We Are Here To Help!breast cancer,survivor,awareness,Facebook

Imagine if I hadn’t fought when I was diagnosed in 2010? And my prognosis was not rosy even after treatment was completed. Now, as a five-year survivor cancer-free, things are much much more positive as to my survival! ? I’m so glad I fought and won against the aggressive cancer beast – think of all the manatee photographs that would not exist (including Kissing Manatees) if I had not applied myself with the help of so many others. I am forever grateful for this chance at continued life and I intend to continue making my mark in many areas, not the least of which are manatees. Remember, my husband said “They [the manatees] have scars too…”.

I’ll Close With This Collage Of Some Other Birthday Photos I Took From Feb 11th 2014 and 2015. Life Is Truly A Gift – Thrive On It!manatees,birthday,celebrations,©CGrant

Best, Carol

PS – And follow me on Instagram if you like @carolgrantinsta. I’m new ?