Since the weather has been so chilly here in Florida, our endangered manatees (also known as sea cows) are keeping warn in the waters by the power plant at Manatee Park. While the park is a non-captive refuge, meaning they can come and go as they please, I still feel like I'm cheating taking pictures of the manatees there - instead of in the open waters.
The morning we went to visit, there were dozens of manatees of all sizes and ages swimming up and down the channel. This adult female was nursing her calf. Her mammary gland is located just under her flipper. Click on this link to view a video of a mother manatee and her nursing calf: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFwviOe7vwI
Look at the barnacles on her back!
The manatee has a large paddle shaped tail.
Four manatees by the side of the canal including another mother (cow) and her baby (calf). The number of young is a promising sign that the Florida manatee population might be more stable than in previous years.
While we were visiting, a reporter from a local television station came to take pictures of the manatees and talk to some of the visitors. We watched the clip that night and knew that the next day Manatee Park would be mobbed. We went the right day!
I can't figure out how the manatee could have been mistaken for a mermaid. They are so homely that they are cute -- but beautiful? Never!