On December 31, the
last day of 2009, I saw the year out by going for a solo
kayak ride on Crane Creek. It was the first warm
day we'd had in a week or so, and colder weather was coming,
so I wanted to get out while I could.
The manatee apparently felt the same way.
colors and still water set the scene for a beautiful day.
may not get the splashy fall colors they get up north,
but a few maple trees add a touch of red and gold amongst
the green and gray.
There were lots of manatee in the quiet
waters, enjoying the warmth while it lasted. There may
have been 15-20 of them in this area. I sat still in one
spot watching them for a long time.
longer I sat quietly, the more the manatee accepted my
presence. They would come fairly close to the boat and
check me out, then go on about their business.
were a few who were more curious than the rest, coming
close up to the side of my boat. One in particular
started out by coming up and looking at
me from underwater or going behind the boat to peek out
at me. She did that for some time, then built up to swimming
back and forth under my kayak.
I sat quietly, and after a
while she came right up to the side of my boat and rolled
over, as if inviting me to play. I actually caught that on
the video! Check it out!
Then she started bumping and
nudging my boat. Gently, but it was a little scary! If something
startled her, my boat could go flying! She would
rub up against the boat or go underneath and raise up a little
under the back or front. If you look at the treeline in the
video (right near the end), you can see where she turned
my boat quite a bit, nudging it to the left.
I must have sat with the
manatee for two or three hours. Every time I was ready to
call it a day, one would do something interesting again and
I would have to stay.
As I was finally heading
in I took a photo of an osprey in a tree, then noticed a
manatee laying up on the bank.
was worried that I would have to report a dead manatee. This
guy was laying on his back with his flippers spread out and
his head back and his belly up.
Then a fisherman
came up the creek and the manatee rolled over and
disappeared into the water.
He must have been sunbathing
- as was an alligator I saw a short while later.
I haven't seen many
alligators on Crane Creek - maybe five total, including
the two I saw this day.
There was a small one up
near the residential area, where I have seen two others.
None of them have been very big, only four to five foot.
This one looked huge, maybe
a 12-footer. I didn't get very close before he jumped into
the water, and it's a shame I didn't have the camera set
for video, because that would have been a great action shot.
When the huge 'gator jumped in the water there was an equally
huge manatee already there who made a really, really big
splash getting away.