Manatees: A Visit with Florida's Endangered Sea Cows

I recently visited a State Wildlife Park in Homosassa Springs, Florida, where I got to see all sorts of native Florida wildlife, and even meet the park's biggest stars: the manatees. These large aquatic mammals are actually closely related to elephants, and they look it!

During the winter manatee season (yup, there's a manatee season! Who knew?), the balmy freshwater springs in this park can be home to as many as 80 manatees when they swim up the river in search of warm water when the ocean gets cold.

The park is also home to four permanent residents. Sadly, these injured female manatees are all victims of boat strikes. Collisions with humans and our machines are a common accident for these gentle, friendly animals, who are curious about boats and unafraid of humans, but cannot quickly move out of the way.

Luckily, the park is able to provide these manatees with a safe home, isolated from dangers and in a natural environment where they can swim, graze and enjoy their days. Take a look.