And now for the big reveal of the mystery beast!
I have been to many places in my life, over 2/3 of our states (I think), six countries, if we are counting Canada and Mexico, BUT I have never, until this spring break, seen one of these.
Yep, it's a manatee!
I thought they looked like this!
Apparently, that's after Mother Nature, who I'm still not too thrilled with, somehow helps them to clean off all the green and brown stuff that has gathered on their skin over the winter? I am so guessing on this one!
It was a bit chilly during the middle of our week in the Sunshine State, so we went off to find us a manatee or two. Hind sight being so clear, I learned we really didn't have to drive all the way across the state to find them, but this was a very nice park/zoo, and after our disappointment at Silver Springs, we were all ready to see the manatees and other floral and fauna!
Homosassa has an underwater observatory to view the manatees in their natural habitat, but of course they don't just swim by on demand. We did see some very schooly fish though.
When they say "No Swimming......."
I believed them! The manatees are separated from these guys as best as possible, but they are both natives of the Florida Waterways!
The one bird they did not have was, of course, the peacock that Little Bear is SO in to right now, but leave it to her to find a picture of one!
And then we walked through a wonderful zoo full of native birds and animals. The girls loved this part!
I thought this was a very cool-looking plant!
So our day trip to Homosassa Springs, about 30-40 miles north of Tampa, was a huge success. The manatees are having a rough time this spring, especially because of the red tides on the Gulf side. As we learned, their intestines are incredibly long; it takes a week for them to process food. If the poisonous bacteria of red tide gets into their body, it could be a week before it is detected. This park is also a rescue park for the manatees, and four patients were there recuperating when we visited.
So cross this sighting off my Bucket List!