Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Old Man Manatee: "Big Red"

    "Son of Big Red" 
      (a painting by lg; "Big Red" himself has most likely passed on by now, 
          some 15 years later )

Old Man (Manatee) Big Red

The mammoth creature began to pass under the pontoon boat after surfacing on our side. Almost shaking, I hurried to put on the rest of my gear as I readied myself for the water. Plunging into the water near the back of the boat in the nick of time, I proceeded to make my way forward toward the huge sea creature. Fighting against the current, to my amazement, I am able to come up behind the surely 15 (but feels like 20 ) foot beast! I slowly take in the huge girth of his massive paddle-like tail, noticing prop marks and some portions that are missing. I have found that this is a way to identify these creatures without mistake, by the (more often than not) man made marks on their tails and on their backs. This always makes me sad, of course, but I am glad to see how they have thrived in spite of the mark man makes.

He must be about 15 feet long, I think! I am frightfully careful not to disturb him as I slowly float and make my way further up along his very broad back and belly. His girth is huge! I am amazed to see that I cannot see around him from the top! This is an old creature; an ancient creature. All along his back I see prolific growing seaweed (or long flowing hair-like plants) up to three inches long or more moving to and fro in the water’s current. This carpet of plant life on his (her) back ranges in color from deep red to orange (and even a bit of yellow and green here and there!) His back was a wild mosaic of color!

I squeal in delight of discovery and pat his back as if to say “You are so old. I know you are old and I love you-you delight me!” I can sense that this valiant creature that has survived the likes of man and the currents of years of travel has heard me squeal through the water. I squeal to him. He hears me, for the sound travels. As I carefully but deliberately pat his back but a few times, great clouds of sand and dirt rise up and up. He is a great moving magic carpet of part algae and plant life. How old is he (she?) What a dream to come along the path of this remarkable sea creature and to (even) touch such a beast. It was like making the acquaintance of a huge well aged under water elephant. It was like being in the presence of great wisdom. I was astonished. It became quiet in my soul as I marveled in the presence of this great creature.

The memory of this mammoth old man manatee sea creature that we bumped into in the Crystal River (most likely the oldest manatee there, I am assuming) stands out in my mind as  the most wildly amazing moment in the cold crystal water that I could have had that day. The encounter still conjures up in my imagination many questions about the creature’s whereabouts, his age (was it a “she?”) and the like, even to this day! I have met many a manatee in the river, both big and small, gray and (even) whitish in color, but not the least bit as old or as monstrously large (but gentle, as Manatees are) as this one--the one that I have thus named “Big Red” or “Big Red Magic Carpet.”

[I'm starting out with a story for New Year's Eve day (...a good omen I am hoping!) Happy, blessed New Year 2014 to all *!! May you prosper and be in good health! ...May your barns be full! And may love, hope and peace...abound more and MORE to you. :-) lg!]


  1. What an amazing encounter, lg. Loved the manatee tale. Nature truly is magical.

  2. By far, having this blog site available is a great addition to my day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pics with us.

  3. Lucky me - I happened upon your blog and love your photos! Have a wonderful New Year, Jan

  4. Thank you Lynn. Good seeing you here. :-)


Please do...tell.

I'm all about doors.

New Bern, NC 1790-ish.