To say that the Everglades are home to a diverse variety of inhabitants might be an understatement. If you take an airboat tour through Florida’s Everglades, you will have a unique opportunity to meet some of the many animals that live above, around and in the fabled River of Grass.
The wildlife you will encounter on an airboat ride in the Everglades are at home in the air, on the hammocks, in the muck and the marshes. They swim in the water and bask along its edges.
One of the most unusual of all the animals that call the Everglades home is undoubtedly the manatee.
The Florida Manatee
As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tells us, “Manatees are gentle and slow-moving animals. Most of their time is spent eating, resting, and traveling.” In other words, they aren’t bothering anybody, just minding their own business – gently and slowly.
Some think that it was manatees that mariners spotted hundreds of years ago, not mermaids. On the one hand, it’s nice to associate the gentle manatees with the legend of mermaids, but on the other hand, manatees are pretty big. It’s hard to imagine a sailor mistaking a 10-foot long, 1,000-pound creature for a bewitching mermaid. (Then again, it probably had been quite a while since they had seen a woman…)
It is much easier to see why these aquatic creatures have been nicknamed sea cows.
3 Surprising Things About Manatees
- A manatee has more than 2,000 whiskers covering its face. They help it to find food and sense things like the direction of the water current.
- Manatees are most closely related to elephants.
- Manatees have no natural enemies. As we said, they mind their business and don’t bother anyone. Loss of habitat and run-ins with boats are the biggest threats they face.
Winter is the best time of year to see manatees on a Florida airboat charter. (Like many of our friends from New York, New England and the Midwest, they head south avoid the cold weather.)