These manatees were definitely on the move going from one side of DRC to the other!
Executive VP Mandy Rodriguez observes the manatees in action. You can see by the manatee's tail paddle that he must have had a run-in with a boat at some time in his life.
Love was definitely in the air, or at least in the water, recently when a group of manatees visited DRC. At this time of year, mating herds are common and three or four males were in hot pursuit of a lovely female. Possibly tired of the relentless attention, she swam under the buoy line on the west side of DRC and headed for the shoreline. The males obviously followed.
The dolphins in the front lagoon were about to do a session when the manatees arrived on the other side of the fence. Picture a group of large manatee bodies rolling around together. As you can imagine, this was a huge distraction and the dolphins just had to swim over and take a look.
DRC staff members did our best to get a look, too. When we did, we saw that some of the manatees sported scars and healed gashes that indicated previous injuries – most likely from boat strikes!
At one point, the female manatee pushed against the lagoon fences, possibly looking for someplace where she could get a break from her amorous companions. Concerned that she could hurt herself, we decided it would be safer to coax her to leave. Executive V.P. Mandy Rodriguez, who is also the leader of DRC’s Manatee Rescue Team gently paddled around in a kayak while other team members slowly walked through the water and pulled back the buoy line. Without rushing, or harassing the manatees, the team maintained a presence and, finally, the animals turned around and departed.
A few moments later, we spotted them swimming toward the other side of the facility where they briefly slipped under the buoys and swam along the fences where the big boys live. Perhaps the lady manatee decided that the last thing she needed was more guys around because she turned around almost immediately and, you guessed, returned to the other side of DRC!
Eventually, they must have realized that this was not the ideal courtship spot. The manatees left without assistance and swam off to explore elsewhere in the Keys.
In the meantime, while all of this manatee melee was underway, we looked off the end of the causeway and spotted dorsal fins. Seems like a small pod of dolphins decided to drop by and feed in the waters around DRC.