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Manatee mating season under way on Sanibel

By Staff | Sep 8, 2011

A few onlookers watched a group of manatees begin the courtship ritual along the shoreline on Sanibel this past Saturday morning.

This past Labor Day weekend, guests at the Island Inn on Sanibel were treated to a rare and special treat. A large number of manatees came up to the shoreline to court a female.

Well known as gentle giants of the seas, these beautiful but massive creatures are even docile in their courtships. The largest manatee – a female – was surrounded by a group of amorous males and they gently rolled in the surf like the movie, “From Here To Eternity.”

Manatees typically breed every two years, and the gestation period lasts approximately one year.

The Sanibel Police Department maintained the area efficiently for the safety of these wild animals – sometimes referred to as “sea cows” – until the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) experts were able to get there, yet still allowed wildlife lovers and children the chance to witness this magical experience.

People are encouraged never to approach a manatee and call the FWC immediately for instructions. Call 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), *FWC or #FWC on your cellular phone, or use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio. Give dispatchers the exact location of the manatee.

A closeup of the manatees.

If the manatee appears to be injured, please call right away. If injuries are not obvious, but you still suspect the manatee may be injured, try to determine the number of times the manatee surfaces to breathe during a five minute period before calling. Since manatees can stay submerged for up to 15 minutes at a time, frequent surfacing could be indicative of an injury.

In this instance, there was no emergency but the possibility of new manatee offspring. FWC was contacted to make sure that the mammals were safe and didn’t get stranded on the sand.