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Contact with the bulbous nose

such As cotton balls, the morning mist floating plumes above the Crystal River. Captain Ed Mensters flat boat looks a little like an oversized Golf cart without the tires and chugs directly onto the white wall. It is still cooling on the broad river near the West coast of Florida. Bored from watching a couple of pelicans from the shore as the passengers constraints at Captain Eds Boot in neoprene suits, and then with a snorkel and diving goggles into the dark water.

It doesn't take long, and sound first enthusiastic Shouts of "Wow!" "unbelievable!" "sweet!". Between the early morning snorkelers, five adult manatees and dugongs (manatees) and a calf Bob up and down. Without Scouring the slightly misshapen giant, dabble in the two meters in shallow water to nibble on the zip cord, a Neoprene sleeve, rubbing on the hull of the boat. The 600-pound animals, some of them swim more than three metres long, closely around the snorkelers as they sought its vicinity.

The ten-year-old Audrey, rubbing the slippery, leathery skin of the animals, which feels hardly different than the neoprene suit that she is wearing. "Can I have one of those?", she asks hypocritical her mother, who is documented with the Go-Pro camera that to Happen. A guy in his fifties next to her slowly on a manatee drive, until their noses almost touch. A young woman chuckles raptured. One of the manatees hugging fins, but in fact with the two Front. Meanwhile, three more boats arrived from shore, several tourist groups with colorful floating swim noodles on the manatees.

It is manatee season in Crystal River. Between November and March, the rare manatees cavort at the springs in Citrus County, up to a thousand. The fresh water sources are a heat tube for the cold-sensitive mammals. The water temperature drops in the Gulf of Mexico, under about 20 degrees, swim the gentle giant ten kilometres upstream to the spring sources, which include the whole year long 22 degree hot water output. The harmless inert marine mammals rest, interrupted only by occasional feeding trips to the sea grass meadows in the Gulf.

The closest Related to the manatee is the elephant

The cult of the bulbous nose has the number of visitors to Crystal River in the past ten years has tripled. More than half a Million people made the pilgrimage 2017/18 in the 3100 inhabitants of the village, the only place where you can legally swim with the animals. In the meantime, several dozen of the organizers of "Swim with the manatees"tours. In shops plush manatees, manatee-cups, bed linen, posters and T-Shirts to Fans of the button-eyed sympathy carrier. Clearly, Crystal River is also a manatee in the city's coat-of-arms and the nickname "manatee capital of the world" has been awarded.

manatees are strange Stars and, at first glance, no real beauties. Dirty gray, misshapen as extremely unfitte seals, small stubby fins, tiny button eyes and a thick bulbous snout. The animals look very bad, Thousands of fine sensory hairs, with which they perceive the smallest movements in the Water to grow on their bodies. Don't understand why Christopher Columbus described the manatees on a Caribbean voyage in 1493, as "mermaids". Either the sailors had seen for a long time no real women more, or in the evening on the Rum awarded. The closest Cognate to the manatee is the elephant.

Over the centuries they had hunted the animals for the meat, skin, bones. In the 20th century. Century brought space habitat destruction, water pollution, and injury from boat propellers or in collisions with boats, and the species in Florida to the brink of extinction. In the 1980s, just 1200 manatees living in Florida. Manatee-quiet zones, speed limits for boats and the legally enshrined "right-of-way for manatees" reduced the number of victims. For 2016, the marine mammals, only humans as a natural enemy, shall apply, not more than threatened, but only threatened.

Extended stays in cold water death

Might lead to the reclassification, however, was premature. The census of 2017, revealed yet 6620 animals, the number of 2018 went on the 6131 and 2019 on 5733 copies. The marine biologists are not sure what the drop is exactly due. In addition, the Figures do not agree exactly, since they are raised from the plane. One explanation could be the cold stress, it is the manatees. He is one of the most common causes of death of the species. For manatees, which is not found in the Winter in a timely manner to a source of hot water, are already a few days with water temperatures below 20 degrees dangerous. Extended stays in cold water can lead to death.

For about 20 years long and cold Winter, with decreasing temperatures in Florida frequently. Still, the backgrounds are not thoroughly researched, but it could be that, due to climate change, the Gulf stream is weakening, which in turn leads to colder winter temperatures in Florida. For the coming Winter, the researchers plan therefore, experiments with artificial warm air sources to the winter of the animals ' quarters. In the cold phase, the sun will heat the air above the water level in the "floating greenhouses". In Winter, manatees need finally, above all warmth and tranquility, they are driving their already low metabolism further down. Every calorie is important.

Here are the motor boats back to the game, because the escape from the fast boot stress for the manatees to escape if you manage. To date, about half of all deaths caused cases of adult manatees, directly or indirectly, by the people, the number of unreported cases is considerably higher. So this year also: Until the middle of September, 109 animals in collisions or by screws, injuries claimed the lives of 28 percent of the overall death rate came already. No wonder, pull, but every week, on average, more than 900 people, according to Florida, many of them of the Lifestyle on the water. A boat for excursions and fishing trips, like the car in the Garage as standard equipment.

Conservative Locals nervous is whether or not the animals

"The Problem with the boats, the animals are so slow, so innocent and so curious," says Cindi Guy, 54, the former main contractor, offering for five years, manatee-tours. "It makes the boats to their doom. And it is precisely these traits make them so lovable and attractive to people." Hardly anyone can escape the fascination of the clumsy giants. Whether the visit to boom also presents a danger to the animals, is not yet clear. "Manatees are very resilient. However, we do not need to see that tourism is rampant," says manatee expert and wildlife biologist Amy Teague of the U.S. Geological Survey. "This is not a petting zoo but their natural habitat."

Many long-established water-sports enthusiasts and fishermen in the deeply conservative district of Crystal River in 2016, voted 68 percent of the voters for Donald Trump, however, are annoyed by the manatees, because the rules slow down the boat traffic. One who does not want to see his name printed, snarls: "We can hardly move more freely. The government seems to put the Welfare of the animals over the Welfare of the people. Let's be honest, manatees are completely useless, except for the Manati industry."

Near the source of Three Sisters Springs will gather around lunch time the day trippers. A buoy-mounted shut-off leash marked how far the manatee Fans are allowed to swim. Behind the leash of about 25 manatees rest on the river bottom, you can see them well in the clear water. From observation platforms from whistles volunteers Intrusive float back. It is not that Teenagers try to ride on manatees, the remove yourself from the protection zone. Others make underwater Selfies or embrace the good-natured giant. From the shore, from pelicans to see the hustle and Bustle. You were human, you would probably shake your head.

boat captain Ed Menster, 49, swims along with its second-trippers group to this day, the linen. He points to the Manati-Knigge: the animals with only a Hand touch, not on the animals to swim, not their head touch. "Passive Watching is okay," he says, "if a manatee comes up to you rubs or is in contact with you wants to enter, that's his decision." Violations can face heavy fines and even prison to be punished, however, it is difficult for the swimmers to keep to the rules.


This Text is from the current issue. Now all of the articles in the E-Paper of the Sunday newspaper, read: App for iOS App for Android – Web-App

Created: 02.11.2019, 23:42 Uhr

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