"" Writer's Wanderings: Manatees, Dolphins, and . . .Fireflies in the Sea?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Manatees, Dolphins, and . . .Fireflies in the Sea?

As I write this, I am looking out my window at a spring snowfall and wishing we had spent more time in Florida. It was wonderful to be able to get outdoors and play tennis and go kayaking. Our tennis skills improved some but have a long way to go. Our kayaking skills. . .well, all I can say is that it took us a week to figure out how to get into the thing without getting soaked.

Once we had the kayaking down though, we set some lofty goals. We estimated some trips were close to two miles. The truly exciting times though were when we found sea critters. The bay area on the west side of Key Largo was not very deep and had lots of areas where there were reeds growing under the water. The gardens of reeds were home to some good sized crabs that provided a bit of entertainment along the way.

We had seen dolphins on several days out in front of our condo but always from our lanai and never with a camera close enough to capture them in time. Even though we didn't have a camera with us on our kayak outings (definitely needed a waterproof one) I hoped we'd see dolphins. The dolphins never came out to play but one afternoon we got a special treat. A mother and baby manatee.

At first I thought we were seeing a dolphin surface but when no distinctive fin appeared and the gray bump in the water submerged again, we paddled over for a closer look. As we sat still in the kayak and looked around we suddenly realized that two manatees were swimming below us. The water couldn't have been any more than eight feet deep so we got a good look. They weren't shy. They swam under us several times as they foraged for tasty bits from the garden of reeds.

Every so often we would see the little one surface--nose only, for a breath of air. Mom had bigger lungs and stayed down longer. The leftover bits of reed, mostly the roots, began to litter the surface of the water as they enjoyed their lunch. We paddled on down to our destination and then took another look at the two on our way home.

The next evening, Bob happened to be on the dock and saw another manatee foraging in the reeds around the dock area. He snapped the couple of pictures here with his phone. Great encounters but something more mysterious was about to appear.

One night after we said goodbye to our grandkids, instead of going back up to the condo we decided to take a stroll on the dock. It was a quiet night with just a ripple of waves in the water. I looked out and blinked several times not believing what I saw. Fireflies in the water?

Unseen during the day because they are so small, jellyfish were sparkling in the night time. They are bio-luminescent and when disturbed, light up from an internal molecular or chemical reaction. The ripple of waves would make them light up. They looked like little blue fireflies in the water. It was mesmerizing. . .and so much nicer than watching snow fall when the daffodils are getting ready to bloom.

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