What’s That Floating in the Water? Is It a SEA COW?

Last week I finally got to see a real, live, wild Florida manatee — a true gentle giant that’s been endangered basically as long as Floridians have had motorboats.

While it wasn’t quite as euphoric as when I swam with whale sharks, seeing the manatee was enjoyable and worth the effort.

How it went down: The island where we stayed is only accessible by boats — no cars allowed, which is a TERRIFIC thing — and so there are a lot of docks on the lagoon side. Each morning I would wake up and wander out to our dock, hoping to see the fabled Florida manatee. And I’d wait. And wait. And wait.

Where yours truly patiently waited to see her first sea cow. I probably took this photo while waiting.

One morning, after finally getting bored watching ibis (what’s the plural of ibis? ibises?) and herons muck about in the oyster beds, I started walking back to the beach house. Then I heard….

“SCCCCCCCHHHHHHHNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOFFFFFFF”

I snapped my head around and saw what looked like an alligator floating on the surface. It sunk down and disappeared. Meh. Alligators are old news for me — lizards of all sizes are common in Texas. But what was the schnoofing? Alligators don’t schnoof.

Then the schnoof sounded again, and I realized the creature was enormous.

Sea cow enormous.

At first glance, I mistook these giant nostrils as alligator eyes. The swirly effect behind the nostrils further convinced me it was a reptile.

Still, I ran to the end of the dock to get a closer look. Manatee?!

Yes. Manatee! "SCHNOOOF."

After I saw him/her, I couldn’t get a certain Pixies song out of my head, especially this refrain:

“What’s that floating in the water/Old Neptune’s only daughter?”

2 thoughts on “What’s That Floating in the Water? Is It a SEA COW?

  1. yoyomar says:

    Way cool.

    Next you should go to Hawaii in search of monk seals! (Or not. I’m intrigued by them since learning that there is a cadre of old ladies who protect them while they’re (the seals, not the old ladies) sleeping on the beach on Kauaʻi.)

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