Saturday, March 10, 2012

Manatee Tails

I think the part of a manatee most people see, aside from a quick glimpse of a nose as the animal comes up for air, is the tail.  I know it's the first--and only--part of a manatee I saw, nearly 20 years ago during a trip to Captiva Island in Florida.  Three of the great beasts were feeding in the marina, and in the murky water I couldn't see anything but their tails, which were just at or above the surface.  The entire time I watched they never came up for air.

Impressive, paddle-like tails are the manatees' only means of propulsion, so they have to be strong and wide.  The tail is an extension of the backbone--if a manatee ever had back legs they are long gone now.  Front flippers and tails are all they get to conduct their aquatic acrobatics.

Their tails look to me like prickly pear cactus.

I was happy it was bright enough to stop the action and catch the water sheeting off their tails.

The last photos are a series of shots of a manatee splashing its tail on the surface.

We left the run shortly after this.  The park closed at 6:15 (sundown) and we had to get back to the launch and load up the boats.  But on the way we were blessed with one more gift from the park.

Next:  A life list bird!


  1. Really, really cool!! I just caught up with all of your Florida posts. I love your new canoe/kayak. I would have loved canoeing where you were!!

    1. Yeah, Kelly, if you ever get the chance, Blue Spring State Park is awesome. I've seen a couple of life list birds there (purple gallinule last year and a limpkin--which I am about to write about--this year). It's really a great place to paddle, and they do rent boats and canoes. Plus the manatees in winter. The spring itself is great for swimming too.