What a day we had today!! Spring is always exciting here in King's Bay as we tend to see the most babies this time of year. So far this year we have had at least 5 babies born.....healthy and beautiful! So many babies, we may need help naming them all!
Many times while out on the water we will see manatees in distress, and in that case we will photograph and video them to ensure they get the help that they need. Today, while on a tour, guide Jodi and Captain Irish Dave spotted a manatee in trouble! Resting on the surface and listing to one side, it was showing all the signs of being of distress. The calls were made to Fish and Wildlife and rescue teams......and before we knew it they were on site to ensure this manatee was going to get the help that it needed.
We wait with baited breathe in a scenario like this......if a rescue is needed we will all pitch in and ensure that it goes as well as possible. Sometimes the rescue is very traumatic for these animals, so having plenty of hands on deck is a necessity! For most of us, these moments are stressful but rewarding. Our love of these helpless animals is what keeps us going! On many occasions we will continue to watch the animals for days, taking videos and sending them to Fish and Wildlife.....but today there was no waiting as this manatee appeared to need immediate assistance!
Minutes passed like hours and before too long the phone rang with a report from the biologist on site. Good news, actually GREAT news...this manatee WAS in distress, but only because it was in labor and ready to give birth!! WOW! Now that's the update we wanted to hear! In this case, we give momma the space and time she needs, sometimes these deliveries can take days. When Jodi and Dave return from their tour, I get to deliver the good news....and their reaction is indicative of how much they really care. The relief on Dave's face was completely evident, and Jodi was brought to tears of happiness. That news eased their minds and made their day!
Manatees can mate anytime of the year, and gestation is nearly 14 months. We tend to see the most births happening in the spring, as this is most advantageous for babies' survival; but mating herds can happen all year round here in Crystal River! If you have never seen a mating herd of manatees, it is a sight unlike anything else. Around here we call it the 'dance of love', often times it can be a quick lesson in reproduction for our young visitors as it's hard to miss!
Spring and summer, winter and fall......there is no other thrill we have quite like seeing new babies in the Bay. We know that here in Crystal River they have a better chance of survival than anyplace else on the planet!! Mommas seem to know this, and will often stay in the Bay with babies for nearly two years; regularly leaving the babies behind in the winter to make the treacherous journey out to the Gulf to gorge on grass beds and return to their baby by sundown. If we see a half-dozen babies hanging out in the springs with no mothers around, we can safely assume they were left there and told to 'Stay put young one, I will be back to feed you after I fill my belly!' It's unclear how this communication happens, but we clearly see the evidence of this every year. Infact there are a few shallow areas that we will often call 'nurseries' as they are regular daycare areas for unattended sirean youth!
We will share pictures of the newborn regularly on our Facebook pages, so follow us for the latest. There are at least two more pregnant females in the area.....so we hope for more good news to come very soon! Stay tuned......and come visit us to see and feel this extraordinary adventure for yourself!