When it comes to unusual things to see on vacation, Florida has no shortage of sites. From the sponge docks at Tarpon Springs to Al Capone’s favorite hotel in Coral Gables, the state has lots of strange sights. Its wildlife, too, can be very unique. And when it comes to the manatee, unique might not even begin to describe it.
Lovingly called sea cows, manatee are very unusual creatures. They are aquatic mammals that are known for their gentle, peaceful nature despite their large size. Somewhat bizarre in appearance, the manatee look like a cross between a cow and sea lion of sorts.
The manatees found in Florida tend to live in shallow, slow-moving rivers, bays, coastal waterways and estuaries. Although they are largely found in Florida, manatee have been sighted as far north as South Carolina and are common in some of the other southeastern state.
One of Florida’s favorite critters, the gentle manatee is in serious jeopardy of extinction, mostly due to the creatures’ swimming habits. They tend to populate areas where boats like to trek. This means bad news for boaters who get their props hung up on the giants, but even worse news for the manatee that can die from the encounters.
Those who vacation in Florida will find there are plenty of opportunities to view manatee both in captivity and in the wild. The people of Florida are passionate about this creature and there are very strong efforts under way to assist the species in its fight for survival.
Vacationers who want to see manatee in the wild have choices in almost every part of the state. There are good viewing areas in Orange City, Riviera Beach, Apollo Beach and Ft. Myers. There are, of course, lots of possibilities to spot manatee while trolling Florida’s water ways and visitors are asked to pay heed to warning signs that herald the possible presence of these creatures.
In captivity, visitors can see dozens of manatee at locations all over Florida. Zoos and wildlife preserves within the state generally have manatee in their care that have been recuperating from boating-related injuries. Although the aim is to return manatee to the wild, this isn’t always the case due to extensive injuries. Locations that have manatee on site include Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Homosassa’s Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and Orlando’s SeaWorld. There are a number of other locations, too.
Florida’s wildlife can be unusual and few creatures are more unique than the manatee. A docile creature that’s been driven to the brink of extinction, the manatee is fiercely protected by wildlife officials in the state and is a creature worth seeing up close and personal by vacationers.