With the fun, work, and chaos of the symposium behind us we loaded a trailer full of boats and drove an hour or so north for a relaxing day of paddling on the Weeki Wachee river. The Weeki Wachee is well known for its crystal clear water and abundant winter manatee population. Of the eight of us on the river only one, Jen Kleck, had not seen a Manatee before. This being the last opportunity on this trip for Jen to see these gentle giants we all hoped that we’d see at least one.
The boats were off the trailer and on the water in short order and only a few minutes of paddling put us over a deep spot in the river. There, through crystal clear water alive with schooling Yellow Tail Jacks, we counted at least a half dozen different manatee. Some lazed nearly motionless just a few feet below the surface while others came up for a breath every couple of minutes. Several of the more active animals even threw their tails in the air, much like whales throwing their flukes, as they dove for the bottom.
From that pool we continued lazily up the river a couple miles stopping along the way for lunch and to stretch our legs. Along the way we saw at least a half dozen more manatee. Two (seemingly a mother and calf) were sleeping in a sunny quiet spot on the inside of a bend of the river while others swam with the current like torpedoes as though they had an appointment to make downstream. We were well shy of the top of the river when we decided we’d better turn back in order to get Jen to the airport in time to catch her flight. So we turned ourselves around and enjoyed an effortless float back to our cars.