Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tourist's Dream, Conservationist's Nightmare

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

The other day I rowed into the marina to get some fresh water.  When I got there, I could see that it was busy.   As you see in the picture, there was a manatee there sipping at the fresh water.

Somebody (all present denied it was them) left the valve on the water hose partially open, it fed in to a pipe and the fresh water dripped out.  The manatee loved that, and he (she?) was happily lapping up the drops.   A young girl was scratching the manatee's nose.

One's first reaction to such a scene is "how charming."   On second thought, one realizes that this is a wild animal and that its survival could be harmed by familiarity with humans, or dependence on human sources of fresh water.   Doing what those people did is illegal and morally wrong. 

Overall, this harbor is doing well.   In addition to small fish and birds, we have dolphins, manatees, pelicans, crocodiles, iguanas and a moray eel.  On very still mornings, if I have the porthole open, I can hear mourning doves.   Doves are definitely not marine birds.  They remind us that we're still close to the mainland.

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