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More Than Birds in Florida

By Mark D. Roberts | Thursday, March 12, 2009

During our visit to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in central Florida we saw more than amazing birds. We almost stumbled upon several alligators in a little canal along the road. As we hopped out of the car to see some colorful birds, my wife said, “Hey, look! An alligator!” Gazing down we saw a seven-foot alligator, only about ten feet away. Then we saw another, and even a baby gator hiding in the weeds. It’s the first time I ever saw alligators in the wild.

This alligator was probably five feet long, and safely across a canal from me.

This baby gator was probably about eighteen inches long.

As we drove through Merritt Island Refuge, we saw a sign for a Manatee viewing spot. So we drove to Haulover Canal in the hope of seeing a Manatee. Sure enough, we caught a glimpse of one as it fed along the shore.

This one was big, at least nine feet long, I estimate. If you’re not familiar with Manatees, they are marine mammals that are also known as “sea cows.” It’s estimated that there are 1,000 to 3,000 Manatees in Florida. The Manatee is an endangered species, and is genetically related to the elephant.

Speaking of marine mammals, I also saw a couple interesting ones just offshore at Cocoa Beach. They look curiously like my own kids, only much older than I remember.

Topics: Vacation, Nature |

4 Responses to “More Than Birds in Florida”

  1. Ray Says:
    March 12th, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Speaking of your kids, I know the feeling well. My oldest is in college now, and every time I am reminded of how grown up she is I think to myself, “Man, her mom must be getting old!” (Dads don’t age, do they???)

    I had an interesting experience with an aligator several years ago while fishing along the bank of a bayou on the Mississippi gulf coast. I was walking through the weeds, headed for the next spot I wanted to fish, and I paused to…um…relieve myself. I inadvertently urinated almost right on top of a 6 foot aligator. Luckily, he was as freaked out as I was, and he struck out for the water instead of biting off a rather important part of my anatomy.

    Have a great time in Florida. Gonna get to see the shuttle launch?

  2. Mark Roberts Says:
    March 12th, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Ray: Yikes!

    Yes, if they launch it tonight, we’ll try to see it.

  3. Neil Says:
    March 12th, 2009 at 5:48 am

    Great pictures! We’re off to the West coast of Florida next week to see in-laws and fish a bit. We swam with the Manatees once. Very cold, but fun.

  4. Robert Swedberg Says:
    March 12th, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Dear Mark,
    What fun to see you all discovering some of the same things that your kid’s cousins have grown up with. How I wish I could be there to share this time with you and Linda and your family. You will have to come back and stay with us again! Go to see Juniper or Blue Springs too! There are so many natural wonders in Florida, and they get so overlooked by the “attractions.” Hope you all are enjoying both worlds. Love to you all! Bob


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