Thursday, 20 October 2016

Manatee Sightseeing Eco-Tourism Adventure

Have you ever seen a manatee? I hadn't up until this year! I have been visiting Florida ever since I can remember, and I had never ever seen a manatee... I may have seen big shadowy blobs in the ocean, from the balcony, but I could 
a) never confirm it was a manatee 
b) never actually get the chance to see them in all their magnificence.

This year my family and I set out on a mission to see a manatee! Having sported a beautiful silver pendant of a manatee, that my mum got me as a gift when we visited Fort Myers Beach one evening, for well over a year, I felt it was about time to see if we could lay eyes on the real thing!

So we did some research and came across 'The Manatee Sightseeing Eco-Tourism Adventure' in Naples, near Marco Island. We gave them a call, and fitted ourselves in for the next day! However, allowing yourself enough time in advance to book this trip would be wise, because you really don't want to have to miss out due to lack of organisation (which my family and I seem to really suffer from!) We were super lucky to be able to squeeze ourselves in so quickly!

We arrived to meet our tour guide, Captain Andrew Jr. and his First Mate, Bella, the most adorable little sea-dog you will ever meet! We settled ourselves aboard the boat, and before we had even managed to turn on the motor, we saw an alligator cruising past! So before the tour had even begun, we had seen something! Being from the UK, alligators aren't your everyday pests, so to see one chillin' so casually, is still quite something!

So we set off! The quietness of the Everglades was beautiful, it was so remote, you really felt at the heart of nature.

We saw a Bald Eagle, perched high up in the tree, from such a distance it was difficult to appreciate the incredible size of the bird, however Captain Andrew Jr. soon managed to fill us in on just how huge these birds can get!
Moving on, we saw even more gators! Now don't fear, Captain A. Jr. assured us that alligators are far less likely to want anything to do with us, than their close cousin; the crocodile. He informed us that the majority of the time, gators just want to be left alone and wont bother us much, more likely than not, they are more scared of us, than we are of them. Which is pretty reassuring considering the reputation of such majestic reptiles, of dinosaur decent!

After a wonderful boat ride around the Everglades, we were still short of manatees, but our determined Captain was not about to give up anytime soon! We headed back, and took a left hand turn, and pretty much sighted something very rare.

A group of manatees!

Manatees are solitary animals, they do not tend to stick together, unless in the case of a mother and calf, or mating. We caught this rarity on the latter. One female, with at least SIX males! It's not always easy to keep count, as the manatees surface and then go back under, and are obviously, constantly swimming.

And my god! The size of these animals is breathtaking! I knew manatees were big. But when you are feet away from these gentle giants, it's a completely different experience!

The boat has an alternate motor, referred to as the 'trolling motor'. This is used instead, as it is not harmful to the manatees, and also quiet so it does not disturb them in anyway, even though they are pretty hard of hearing. Our Captain informed us that 9 in 10 manatees are hit by a boat propeller at least once in their lives. So at the Eco-Tour they take every possible precaution so not to cause any harm.

We absolutely LOVED this experience and would highly recommend this wonderful boating company to anyone! It's a brilliant day out for all ages, educational and was most definitely a highlight to our holiday!

And guess what! Manatees have been struck off the endangered species list! Go celebrate with the beautiful creatures themselves!

Click here to visit their website and find out more and book your trip!

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