Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

The mystery of manatees – mistaken for mermaids by Columbus and seafarers and related to dugongs and elephants – continued as we realized our visitors kept to a daily schedule as we observed them for weeks on end this summer.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

How We Got To Observe Them

This summer, we had to demolish a type of derelict vessel that drifted up to our dock during a hurricane. Lacking propulsion or steerage, it did not qualify as an actual derelict vessel, but instead, marine debris.

FWC does remove derelict vessels, but not marine debris. That’s actually the responsibility of the county. The county sets aside 40% of the vessel registration fees for maintenance of boat ramps and removal of trash in the waterways.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

In our case, since the county had never taken on this responsibility before, despite state statute being very clear on the topic; they refused to deal with the structure. So, we removed it in order to protect our own property.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

And that’s why we were out on the dock all day every day for a couple months and had the incredible opportunity to observe the manatees.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

Daily Visits

In demolishing the houseboat, we made a heck of a lot of noise.

At first when the manatees came by every day, I thought they were attracted to all the unusual action and noise.

We worried that we were disturbing their natural habitat. However, they seemed to seek us out! Maybe they were curious about all the action. Possibly they simply were oblivious.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

Noise Pollution

The demolition of the houseboat seemed to require constant noises. Either we were banging out nails, running a circular saw to cut beams, or enduring a whining sawzall on siding.

We felt pretty guilty about making so much noise, but the manatees kept coming by!

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

They liked to glide back and forth under the dock to visit either the sandbar just north of our dock, or another just south of our dock.

We could tell they were eating because bits of roots would float up as they progressed.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

Manatee Prints

Manatees make distinct patterns in the water. When they swim, their huge round tail makes big round areas in the water.

However, when they are grubbing on the bottom, they make a big disturbance on the surface the shape of their body.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

If manatees continue to swim while taking a breath, their wake is a “vee”- shaped pattern in the water.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

You can just see the shadow of the mother and baby manatee in this photo.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

Although these photos are not so exciting; I got to where I could recognize our visitors. There was a mother and a youngster probably about a year old.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

Love Is In The Water

One afternoon, a huge male visited! I think he had intentions toward the female.

He surged mightily toward her, the youngster fell back, and she must have said something not so enticing, because next thing we knew; he was headed in a different direction.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

Cypress Times

The manatees never went very close to shore; about twenty feet away was the closest we saw them travel toward the banks of the river.

They seemed to prefer to muck about on the sandbars.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

Sometimes they cruised by, and we called the neighbors to let them know the manatees were headed toward their dock.

Our neighbors would come out, wave, and watch as well.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

Houseboat Demolition Complete

Eventually, our chore of taking the houseboat down to the pontoons and decking was complete.

I don’t know if the manatees miss the house boat and the noise it must have made when it was bouncing up and down on the bottom of the river.

We did everything imaginable to conduct the demolition with not so much as a screw or nail going overboard. Nothing unnatural escapes was our goal.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

Cypress Swamp

Our backyard is a historic cypress swamp; alive and changing daily. Trees fall, grow, hurricanes come and go, otters cavort, alligators lurk, raccoons wash food by the riverbanks.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

The opportunity to see nature daily is not lost on us. We feel very fortunate to be stewards of our river and our swamp. In the photo above, you can see the pollen on the water in swirly designs from the wind and the tide.

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

I took this photo as the manatees headed to our neighbor’s dock. If you don’t know for what you are looking; you wouldn’t even know they are there.

National Geographic article fun to read: How Did Manatees Inspire Mermaid Legends?

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

 We Don’t Go Anywhere Without:

  • Stream2Sea Reef Safe SPF 20 or 30 mineral, regular or tinted sunscreen, mask defog, shampoo, conditioner, rash guards and more reef-safe supplies. Use my code “DeepWH” for 10% off. The packages are biodegradeable – not just recycled and recyclable.
  • Crisis Medicine Tactical Casualty Care Course knowledge so we can help ourselves. With code “DeepWH” you save 20% on the TC2 course
  • MyMedic Individual Bleeding Control Kits, this link and my code “DeepWH15” will save you 15% on your purchase. We take ours everywhere.
  • North American Rescue CAT tourniquets. Use code “MAY25” for 20% off through midnight on 5/31/20. This is a huge savings!
  • Airbnb, “Kimberly gave you up to $55 off your first trip.”
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  • Uber gives you $2 off your first three rides.
  • Travelex is our trip insurer – click for a free quote.
  • Girls That Scuba – members discount card for all things diving.
  • REI Co-op for great sports equipment and travel clothes.
  • Sailo for $100 off your next boat rental! Discount Code: “KimWa1”
  • PierShare to rent your dock out or rent a dock.
  • BoatUS for your boat towing insurance! Code: “HEWAF88”
  • RoadId for $5 off your cycling/running/kayaking/travel id.
  • Dazer Ii Ultrasonic Aggressive Dog Deterrent Repeller Dazzer – keeping dogs at bay while we cycle.
  • Guardline Security Wireless Driveway Alarm – alerts us when someone approaches. Less expensive directly from the company.
  • Guardline Security Wireless Driveway Alarm – alerts us when someone approaches. Less expensive directly from the company.
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Thank you Bill for being the Best Demo Partner EVER!

Manatees, Manatees Visiting Our Dock // Meeting My Prehistoric Threatened Neighbors in the Cypress Swamp

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