I never feel so blessed as I do when a wild animal approaches me.
This gorgeous thing made it’s way to the canal in front of our house in the keys seeking warmer waters during the winter (if I can call what South Florida has ‘winter’ anyway).
If you know anything about manatees, it’s that they move slow and eat seagrass.
You may not know how gentle they are. Once, I followed a bull manatee for just a bit too long and he abruptly stopped to stare me down.. I won’t lie to you, I was momentarily scared. I stopped the gentle pulsing of my fins and let the current carry me backwards as I tried to guess it’s next move. Silly me. Manatees are not fighters. Before I could do anything else he was gone. A thousand times the swimmer I will ever be.
Quick fact, manatees were downgraded from endangered to threatened in 2017. Some of the laws that helped achieve this also state that if I laid a hand on or gave fresh water to this viejita (= little old lady) I would face hefty fines and possibly jail time.
I would be reprimanded for helping another animal.
Yeah, ANOTHER animal. You are animal.
People tend to forget that – no matter how capable our thumbs or shiny our gadgets.
I understand the goal is to not let animals get used to human interaction because – albeit, humans are occasionally evil and destructive; but I think our logic is flawed.
I think we should fix the humans… not turn our backs on the animals. What do you think?
To be fair every animal on Earth (including humans) can be dangerous… especially humans. Anything with a mouth can bite, okei guys?
Goliath groupers can weigh up to 800 lbs and grow to over 8 ft long. These babes are protected and it is illegal to harvest them in Federal or State waters. It’s actually illegal to even lift them out of the water once they are big since they can crush themselves with their own weight (like most large fish\marine mammals). Goliaths can swallow sharks whole (google it) and they make a deep barking noise that has had me drop Bullet (what I affectionately call my GoPro) more than once.
But they are cute and have adorable bulldog faces. Don’t fight me on this.
There are two Goliaths I am particularly fond of in the lower keys. Jody & Jessica Westbrooks of Livin’ the Keys Life (subscribe to their channel it is aaamazing) let me know that the locals call them Jerry & Grover ♥
Here is a shot of them from the boat:
Jerry is very friendly. Here he is saying hi to each member of the family:
Grover is much bigger and much more shy (the big fish always are, amirite?)
The first time I met these two it was a really bad weather day. Not sure how I convinced my dad to take us all the way out to the reef… #daddysgirl ♥
Rough chop, awful visibility, and the current was roaring… needless to say I was the only one in the water. I know, I know my mom tells me all the time… I’m a problem.
It’s never not been worth it.
Anyway, I am going up & down fighting all elements of nature – happily – and as I am heading into the boat I see two big brown masses hanging out underneath her.
My little heart drops for .5 seconds. If you couldn’t tell already from my first post I am 10/10 dramatic. But I bounce back faster than I fall so it’s fine.
So heart drops and I pop my head out of the water and yell for Bullet.
Most of my videos of Grover are me chasing him down and quickly giving up… because they only look slow and lethargic…
Can you tell how murky it was?
SIDE NOTE: did you catch this little piece of fire coral in the video? Rewatch. He stung me to high hell. He deserves his 5 min of fame. Does anyone else ALWAYS get hit by fire coral or just me?
They were both apprehensive the first day we met. Even Jerry kept a safe distance. However, every time after that he has been all up in my face & making my mom scream through her snorkel because she swears he wants to eat her toes. I’ve read they like crabs the most and I know they will swallow a fish whole while it struggles on a line… I should look into their affinity for toes.
One of the more recent times we ran into the duo, Grover gave me another heart attack. I was swimming along minding my business when he barked from behind me. I promise I felt my brain rattle. We probably scared each other . I grabbed some air real quick and dove down again to catch this little video:
Forever avoiding me but Jerry is at a point where he begs for pets. He rubs up on our legs and fins and gets all up in our faces. It’s endearing… Friends and family we have taken do not initially agree.
I think that was roast beef one of my little cousin threw over the boat. He didn’t like it either. He needs a taste bud adjustment. I love roast beef.
Jerry is a total babe though so he is forgiven:
Keep coming back and together we will vanquish all your preconceived notions about the “monsters” of the sea. Sharks, Goliath groupers… what do you guys want to see next?