Wednesday, May 31, 2006


My speeches at the park on Tues went very well. Manatees came for the first two encounters, no manatees for the last one. I think my talks are very interactive. Lots of people ask questions during it. Lots of kids, too. One of the manatees (the girls) kept hugging me with her flipper.
The springs here in FL are beautiful right now. We have had no rain, so they are crystal clear.

B came with me to the park at 7:30 AM to feed the manatee their vitamins today. It was his first time and he really enjoyed it. We went up to the Best Western in Crystal River after, because I needed a kayak part. I highly recommend this wonderful, natural feeling resort. It is right on Kings bay and one of the most peaceful place I have been. I started coming here as a tourist 15 years ago and used to leave being so depressed. I wanted to live on the nature coast with the manatees.
Well my dreams have come true and here I am.
I took some pics of B, but of course, the shutter was partially closed. I will include a pic anyways.

I spotted Fan the child manatee (I call him that because his fipper has been sliced like a fan by a boat prop) and two adults by my house this afternoon. Fan was swimming upside down next to the other manatee. Fan is such a sweetie. It is perfectly normal behavior for manatees to swim upside down and such a delight when you see it. The following pic I took from my deck.

Manatees are highly social, I don't care what the experts say. Wouldn't your agree?

I spotted the owl again tonight I tried to take a better pic. I think it is a Bard Owl. It is really a big imposing bird. Kitty 2 was laying right underneath it. Needless to say I picked her up and brought her into the house. Owls do eat rabbits. I hope my kitties are too big for that guy.

Next I spotted a heron in the tree off the deck.I can't remember what type it is, perhaps you can tell me.
Hey my pictures are not uploading I will try later.

I want to thank all of you who are posting comments. I feel much support. It is nice to know people are reading this and enjoying it. My number one reason for the post is to get the word out about the plight of Manatees.
On JUNE 7, Florida Fish and Wildlife are going to meet and probably take manatees off the endangered list. This would me no monies for law enforcement, education, or other potective measures. It will allow developers to build docks and develope waterfront. I willgive you more info in my next post. Please email Jeb Bush, he is for it, of course. HELP THE MANATEES TO EXSIST, PLEASE!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Nature's wonder

1. Manatee in my Big Cypress Canal, awful scars, resting in my quiet canal during Memorial Day. The river was terribly busy, everyone spoke of all the manatees in the river. I hope they all survived the crazy weekend. k and I escaped to Caladesi Island. Beautiful, as always. Kayak there was smooth, coming back we hit bumpy waters. Whenever I kayak in rough water, I am always happy to get to shore alive and feel quite accomplished

2. Night pic of a great horned owl on the electric line by my house tonight. Very cool I thought.

3.Here is a pic of my new butterfly garden. B took it. I will take pics as it grows

Goodnight all, tomorrow I give three manatee encounters at the park. I hope I do well.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Today's Creatures on the Secret River

These are the babies that hatched from the green heron in my previous post. I have been watching the nest that is located across the water from my home. I hope you all can see the two little yellow furry guys.

I also spotted these baby ducks by my house today.

I am really not happy with the pic of the baby ducks. Oh well.

So k and I went swimming and kayaking yesterday and today. Yesterday we actually swam up river between beaches and went way up without our kayaks and then had a delicious float down river. The river can flow as fast as 7 mph. I would say we achieved a very high course level. You can see about course levels in another post of mine.

Today we went down river to socialize with people. It was pretty fun. The river was crowded with boats, tubers and kayakers. But not horrific, there were three manatees that went into my big cypress canal from the river. I was so glad to see these manatees get into a safe haven and off the river. I recognized one of the manatees as Slashy, a regular. Every body along the river spoke of seeing at least three tiny babies and their mom's today. Please tell me how they survive. I don't understand. The boats are so big and fast and the river so narrow. I worry for their saftey.
People hate the tubers on our river, but I kinda like them, they make the boats slow down. There is a lot of hostility between the different modes of transportation on the river. The kayakers hate the motor boaters. THe motor boaters hate the tubers and kayakers. The tubers don't get out of the way of anyone. I swear one day a tuber is going to get cut up by some boat's propeller.
I TOOK PICTURES OF SLASHY, but they wouldn't upload. This blogging is hard work.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006



I went to the park yesterday and gave three manatee encounter talks. YEAH! I feel like I am improving. At the first talk I had two manatees with me, and they wanted their vitamins. At the second and third talks I had 5 at each talk and they were pushing and begging for vitamins. The girls performed like pros. They finished all the elephant vitamins. Ivy and Ms. Vicky -you guys can relate to this. I will see if I can get the pic of IVY and the manatees to upload . Vicky, let me know if I can post your pic.

Questions people asked

Do the sheepshead fish pick parasites off the manatees ?
answer: NO, they pick algae off, but their teeth are so sharp they sometimes cause damage to the manatee's thick elephant like skin.

I am trying to upload pics , but it is not working this morning. I am so frustrated.

Some little Head Start Kid asked me why they lived in water? Boy what did I answer? I think I said because that is how they survive, and they like the water and like to swim.

nother question- Why can't you give them fresh water out of a hose?
Answer: because it changes their natural habits and gets them used to human beings.

what is the gestation time?
answer: 13 long months.

A woman came up to me afterward and said that she came to the park specifically to see the manatees. She thought they were such beautiful peaceful creatures. She told me her heart ached for their survival and their plight brought her to tears. I spent about an hour talking with her.
I told her she wasn't alone and that is how I felt too.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Caladesi Island, part one million

Caladesi with cousin A,Brent and Sarah,
Dolphins frolicking
Water warm
Found living sand dollars
Tons of shells

Humpy, back again

Saturday K and I went up river. It was early enough that the water wasn't muddied by drunken boaters. We spotted humpy and babe with the yearling foraging and slowly meandering upstream. We warned boaters of their presence. Most people were cautious and respectful of these guys.
I took lots of pics of of humpy and sent them to ken at fish and wild life. He is monitoring her hump and overall health.
B is home from college after having a very sucessful year.

Friday, May 19, 2006


please note: good quality swim goggles are a requirement to complete each level. They must be worn at all levels above 110.

level 100 BEGINNING

100- wear a bright orange life preserver

101- get in water, stop complaining about the temp. It is not cold. 74 degrees
year round

102-stand in the water up to your thighs

110- pat your face to get it wet

120-get your hair and head wet

130-sit in the perfectly white sand in the shallows

140-doggy paddle and try not to fear being swept away by the current

150-leave after spending 5 minutes at the river beach


201- dip your body and get right out of the water

210- let the current float you around the curve

220- walk back to the beginning of your float up river and start floating down again

221- do vigorous water aerobic walking upstream and start floating down again

225- become proficient in surface diving

230- leave after spending 30 minutes at the river beach

240- practice front crawl, back stroke and breast stroke using the river's current like a lap pool. If possible have some one critique your stroke

level 300 ADVANCED

301- float down river until you fear you won't get back to your beach and will be swept forever away

310- float down and amphibious crawl in the shallows back up river, great arm exercise

320- stay in the water up to your shoulder so the damn yellow flies don't bite

330- leave after spending at least an hour at the river beach

340- trying swimming up river between beaches

350- surface dive as many times as you can see picture for perfection

360- float all the way down river holding on to your kayak's rope (you don't have to go further then Big Cypress

370- work on holding your breath underwater, if possible have someone time it

level 400

440- float down river with no floaties or kayaks

450- jump off one of the trees

460- swim up river for miles

470- synchronize surface dives with your swimming buddy

480- kayak up river to find a huge alligator



This is Humpy, she gave birth in my canal about 2 months ago. This pic is of Humpy and her baby, taken by Diane, a friend of my bestest kayak buddy, Joyce2, when he was just 1 day old. I call her Humpy because she has a huge hump by her shoulder. I think she got hit by a boat.

Back to kayaking today. It was another beautiful day on the river. Ken and I went to Knees Beach. All was great except for a huge pontoon boat on the river. I don't know how they maneuver on my narrow river. How do they avoid hitting manatees? After a lot of swimming we headed down river. I even had ken floating and amphibious crawling. He was kind enough to time my breath holding. I swear my surface diving is getting deeper.

Well we were floating down the empty river and were startled by a manatee's breathing. I was just saying to Ken I was happy I hadn't seen any manatees in the river lately. The weekend is coming and the boat traffic gets crazy. They are safer on the Gulf. We looked and realized it was Humpy taking a huge breath, baby and another young manatee. The youngster looked to be about a year old. It took my breath away, I was so excited to see them. I feel so connected to Humpy and baby. I worry about their survival. But so far so good. The baby looks so healthy and is much more independent. I left crying knowing that their existence is very precarious. I took the following pics of the trio.

End of that story.
Nother story. Today I spotted a green heron's nest across from our dock and shot this picture.

Talk to you later.


Slash the manatee.

kitty number 2 watching a manatee, hey look at the reflection of the heron!
I haven't seen not one manatee since Wed. Where oh where have the manatees gone? Perhaps out to the salt water. I am getting desperate. I know they will come back in.
My dear friend Ellen and I kayaked up stream yesterday. The yellow flies were bad. Poor Ellen got bit up so badly she had to take her rings off due to the swelling. I have developed an immunity to their bite. We went up to Knees Beach. It was wonderful. The water was so beautiful. Nobody was there. Then of course, some jerk in a speed boat came barreling up river and we were at a blind curve. Do you think they slowed down? NO. So I told them to please slow down and watch for manatees. Well, the person got all huffy and nasty. I could hear her screaming as she passed us and continued up river.

I think I did 2 pretty okay programs at the State Park last Tues. Both times I had manatees there. The first time they were only interested in carrots, not vitamins. The second time, I think it was Electra, was begging for vitamins. SO I got in the water and fed her almost a small pail of vitamins. She was a piggy. The audience was thrilled and so was I. This was my first successful vitamin feeding since I began giving talks. I looked up and saw all these people shooting pics of me feeding the manatee.
They were fed spinach on Tuesday, I mean cases, it turned the water green. Pretty funny.

I put in a Florida friendly butterfly garden in my front yard. It is almost finished. I have been working on this for weeks. I'll take pics and we can follow its progress.

Talk to you later. Ken is ready to go kayaking. Hope I see some manatees.

Monday, May 15, 2006


FAN, the child manatee:

Cousin A came over for her B-day and a lovely day it was.

Fan, the manatee child was off my dock. He came right over to the kayak and I was able to shoot some great closeups.
We headed up river for a swim, and soon encountered Fan heading up stream. We decided to stick close by and warn motor boaters of his presence. We heard there were some crazy rental boat people upstream going way too fast. We actually guarded fan as they headed back down to return their boats. They were pretty cooperative and slowed down when we told them about Fan's presence. One actually turned his motor off and lifted his motor and Fan went right under his boat. Poor Fan would have been shreds had this boater not done this.

This whole river living is a love/hate affair for me. If I had to chose to move here on this river again, I don't think I would. It's just too painful.
I wish everyone on this river cared about the manatees that live here. All they have to do is slow down and keep an eye out.

Anyways, A and I went up to Knees Beach. It was late so we were the only ones there. We swam our hearts out and as usual I did some amphibious crawling. We were a little jumpier than usual, what with the recent alligator attacks. The water color was a beautiful crystal clear turquoise and the temp was delicious.

It was a great day and I hope A enjoyed her Birthday.

The pic below shows Fan in the river and the beautiful color and water clarity.

New Species Discovered

Alligator Attacks

Well I guess I have to be a little more careful. No more alligator chasing for me and my very bestest kayak buddy, Joyce2. There have been three attacks in a week. That is three deaths. My concern growith. I hope one doesn't grab my fleshy thigh while I am getting into my yak.
I hope one doesn't eat my kitties.

Florida marks third deadly alligator attack in less than a week
Updated 5/15/2006 4:57 AM ET

SALT SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — Florida had seen just 17 confirmed fatal alligator attacks in the previous 58 years. In less a week, there appears to have been three.
The bodies of two women were found Sunday some 130 miles apart.
Annemarie Campbell, 23, of Paris, Tenn., was attacked while snorkeling in a secluded recreation area near Lake George, said state wildlife spokeswoman Kat Kelley. The lake is about 50 miles southeast of Gainesville.
"The people she was staying with came around and found her inside the gator's mouth," said Marion County Fire-Rescue Capt. Joe Amigliore.
By poking the alligator's eyes and trying to open its jaws, the men were able to free Campbell's body, but she was dead when they found her, the Ocala Star-Banner reported.
Her stepfather, who had tried to help her, was treated on the scene for a hand injury.
"You just don't think of your daughter dying from an alligator," Campbell's mother, Dawn Marie Yankeelov, told the newspaper.
Authorities estimate the animal was 7 to 9 feet long.
In Pinellas County, the body of another woman apparently killed by an alligator was found in a canal 20 miles north of St. Petersburg, authorities said.
Judy W. Cooper's body had been in the water for about three days, authorities said.
The 43-year-old Dunedin woman suffered animal bites that were consistent with an alligator, which "did play some part in the victim's death," according to a preliminary autopsy. The cause of death was pending and the medical examiner's final report will not be released for at least four weeks, the sheriff's office said.
"We don't know the condition she was in when this happened," state wildlife spokesman Gary Morse said.
It was not immediately known why Cooper was in the area where wildlife officials said alligators are frequently spotted.
Cooper's family had not heard from her for about three months and she had a history of drug abuse, her sister, Dannette Goodrich, told The Orlando Sentinel.
Gary Goodrich, Cooper's brother-in-law, told the newspaper that officials said her purse was found near the water and drugs may have played a factor.
Authorities were baiting traps in their searches for both gators Sunday.
On Wednesday, construction workers found the dismembered body of a Florida Atlantic University student in a canal near Fort Lauderdale. A medical examiner concluded that the 28-year-old woman was attacked near the canal bank and dragged into the water.
On Saturday, wildlife officers captured an 9-foot, 6-inch alligator in Sunrise that they believe fatally attacked Yovy Suarez Jimenez while she was out jogging.
VIDEO: Killer gator believed to be caught
Suarez's death was the 18th confirmed fatal alligator attack in Florida since 1948. Nine other previous deaths are unconfirmed, mainly because it was not clear whether the person was already dead when the alligator attacked.
What provoked the attacks in three separate Florida counties was unknown, but state wildlife officials said alligators are generally on the move looking for mates and food this time of year.
"As the weather heats up, the alligators' metabolism increases and they have to eat more," Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Willie Puz said Sunday. "They might be moving more, but that just shouldn't mean increased alligator attacks."
Florida residents are warned not to swim in heavily vegetated areas, feed wildlife or walk pets near the water, especially between dusk and dawn when gators are more active, Morse said


Hey you guys, this is important.
Please please call or write your rep. Your voice does count. I have learned that one person, one action can really make a difference.

Help Protect Marine Mammals! Oppose H.R. 4075

The House of Representatives is expected to be vote on amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act the week of May 15, and we urgently need your help to uphold this important conservation law. The bill most likely to move (H.R. 4075) is sponsored by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., and would severely weaken many of its key provisions.

  • Please call or write your member of Congress and urge him or her not to "kill the Dolphin Deadline" and to oppose H.R. 4075 or any other effort to weaken the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

  • Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
    Representative Ginny Brown-Waite(202) 225-1002U.S. House of Representatives414 Cannon House Office BuildingWashington, DC 20515-0001

    Send a letter to the following decision maker(s): Your Congressperson
    Below is the sample letter:
    Subject: Please oppose H.R. 4075

  • Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],
    I am concerned about the report that H.R. 4075, which would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act, will be voted on in the next couple weeks. This bill aims to weaken critical provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and I urge you to strongly oppose it and any other attempt to undermine this important conservation law.The Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed over 30 years ago to reverse the decline in the populations of whales, dolphins, seals and other marine mammals. In 1994, Congress amended the law to reduce the amount of marine mammals that commercial fisheries seriously injure or kill. This provision is called the Zero Mortality Rate Goal, and it requires that commercial fisheries reduce their harm to marine mammals to insignificant levels. Congress gave commercial fishing operations a full seven years to achieve the goal. This "Dolphin Deadline" has long passed, but still it is unrealized. Every year that commercial fisheries fail to achieve the Zero Mortality Rate Goal, approximately 1900 additional whales, dolphins and other marine mammals are killed. Instead of redoubling efforts to reduce the bycatch of marine mammals, Congressman Pombo's bill, H.R. 4075 would remove the deadline altogether. This is a reckless course that must be averted. Please oppose any efforts to remove the "Dolphin Deadline" or otherwise weaken the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Saturday, May 13, 2006




K, IV, and I went yakin' today. It was glorious out. We immediately spotted around five manatees off our dock, including the one I call FAN. Fan is very friendly, which is why his tail is badly damaged from a collision with a propeller. His tail is sliced up like fingers. He came right up to IV and nudged the kayak and begged for a rubbing. So IV who usually doesn't like to interact with the manatee, rubbed Fan's nose and smelled his hot manatee breath. IV is very respectful of manatees and feels no one should interact with them.

And you know what, she is correct.

Leave them alone to live, sleep and eat. It would be wonderful if some how we could teach them fear of humans.

We continued up river and stopped at Bad Tree Beach. IV and I practiced our synchronized surface dives and I did some amphibious crawling through the perfectly clear shallow sandy water. Doesn't appear like we can call it Bad Tree Beach anymore, seems as though the county came through on the maintenance barge and chopped the tree down. I liked this tree, it kept the big boats out of the upper river.

Traffic wasn't too bad out there today. Maybe three speeding boats, a few slower motor boats, lots of kayakers and quite a few tubers.

BYE IVY, you left today to head home. Good luck with your new job. We had a great visit. We managed to get our blow holes wet every single day but one. I love you, MOM

Friday, May 12, 2006

Part II Mama Manatee and Baby


Woke up this morning and did the usual perusal of the water to see mama and baby visiting.
Then I looked and saw BUMPY the friendly child manatee. Kitty number one watched with much enthusiasm.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I woke up with the usual enthusiasm to see what was out and about and went out on the deck. I saw three manatee feeding off the dock, plus the additional bonus of a mama duck and her babies. This is the best pic I have because it was dark and rainy

My cousin A. came out and IV, A. and I went kayaking in the afternoon. There was a manatee eating at the end of Big Cypress Canal and we all got a really good look. Just a peek, we didn't want to bother it. The guy was in pretty good shape. It had a 6 inch healed slash down his back, it was pretty superficial.
We kayaked upstream past "bad tree beach". The yellow flys were so bad we had to turn around. Please leave a comment if you know a good repellant. Nothing seems to work. I hope A. isn't in for a suprise tonight. The bite usually doesn't appear until later and it is nasty.

It started to rain but that didn't stop IV and A. from swimming in one of the holes we have in the river. On the way back they saw a red tailed hawk with a snake in it's mouth.
We came home and made Passion tea Sara gave me from Starbucks, a great gift, in IV's new bright green whistling tea kettle.

Another great day.

Caladesi Island

Yesterday IV and I took the ferry over to Caladesi Island. Above pic is the beach. Dolphins frolicking right at the water's edge. I can see why Dr. Beach has named this one of the Best beaches in the country:

1. Fort DeSoto Park - North Beach, St Petersburg, Florida - National Winner
2. Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina
3. Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii
4. Caladesi Island State Park, Clearwater, Florida
5. Fleming Beach, Maui, Hawaii
6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
7. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
8. Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Florida
9. Main Beach, East Hampton, New York
10. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii

On the way back there were hundreds of shore birds wading on the flats at low tide including a roseate spoonbill. My most favorite shore bird.

Sorry no manatee or kayaking story today.

Monday, May 08, 2006


This is a picture of Ivy on the river.
Ivy and I went to the local Gulf beach today. We frolicked like manatee in the water. I love swim goggles. We saw a variety of sea creatures in the grass beds; crabs, mullet and other life forms. I thought I saw a manatee, and got momentarily ecstatic, but alas, it was just a large gentleman breathing heavily while swimming behind me.

The best part of the day occurred when we were eating our supper outside. The mama manatee and baby, previously pictured were playing by our dock. She had a child with her too. Ivy and I clamored into the kayak to take pics, but my batteries were dead, of course. This mama is a big smarty, she keeps her distance and flees when our kayaks slowly approach. This bodes well for the baby, she is learning the fear of humans.

We continued out the canal and up the river for a while. It was a beautiful evening. No one was on the river. The light was beautiful. We returned home and did the dinner dishes.

Another great day.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Greetings from Secret River, Florida

Hi Everyone, This is the first day of my new blog. I hope to share with you my love for the manatees of Florida. I live on a beautiful spring fed river in Florida which is frequented by the Florida Manatee. I kayak nearly every day and see these "gentle giants" all the time.

I am the owner of a Hobie Pedal Kayak. See my picture to the right. Its great for picture taking and exercise and what ever else you want to do when you need your hands free while kayaking. It pedals just like a bicyle. Doesn't go into reverse however, that is when I use my paddle.

Today, Ken, my husband, Ivy, my daughter and I went kayaking. The temp. was about 87 and the breeze was cooling and delicious. We went swimming at the end of our canal, The Big Cypress, and the river. As we were standing there a mama manatee and a child manatee went right by us and proceeded into our canal. They were in pretty good shape, not many scars from boat propellors. I was glad they went into our quiet canal. Sundays on the river can be dangerous for people and manatees. The boat traffic is nasty, many people respect the no wake speed, many people do not. Ken and I proceeded up river. As usual we asked eachother how manatees can possibly survive in our usually crystal clear river with all the boat traffic. By Sunday afternoon the river is a muddy murky mess. By Monday morning it is a beautiful crystal clear turquoise and I have it all to myself again. I avoid weekends on the river if at all possible. Its too depressing. People just don't seem to care that manatees live here.

We kayaked for a couple of hours and returned to our dock only to see three manatees and a little manatee baby. This baby was the cutest thing in the world. I estimate his age at a month. Fat and wrinkly. Staying as close to mom as possible. Ivy took some great pics as you can tell. Have you ever seen anything as cute. They hung out at my dock for an hour and then disappeared, on to greener pastures. Hopefully they will stay safe and the baby will grow and flourish.

I am really lucky to see something as wonderful as this.

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