Last week, Wetpixel Member Carol Grant (seagrant) took some extraordinary photographs of a newborn manatee in Crystal River, Florida. Carol has generously allowed Wetpixel to be first to showcase these remarkable shots. Visit the forums for updates from Carol and more images.
In Carol’s own words “It was Friday, Feb 29th, 2008 – an extra “leap year” day and unbeknownst to me a very rare encounter was just around the bend. Upon arriving that cold morning, I noticed manatee kicking up the bottom out front of the sanctuary at Three Sisters Spring, Crystal River, Florida; I thought they were “cavorting” when I saw something small, black and wriggling! My heart was racing, as I knew a wild manatee birth had never been documented and even newborn manatee encounters underwater were almost un-heard-of.”
Carol first sent the images to Bob Bonde (USGS Sirenia Project, author and manatee researcher) who said after looking at them:
“I am certain it is a newborn male calf probably born during the night. Photos of newborns underwater in the wild exist but are rare. Most are of calves that died and were examined at necropsy. Your pictures therefore are quite remarkable.”
Carol continues “The infant (that I named Angel) and the behavior recorded of other manatee seeming to curiously “kidnap” the baby has been witnessed a couple of times by Bob Bonde and his researchers as they studied radio-tagged manatee. But my detailed collection of photographs of this event along with precise timeline is something the researchers relish and should contribute to our understanding of manatees.”
“Also note - I was the only one around witnessing this for over 40 minutes and after that a few other photographers came and were very polite (but missed 90% of the earlier event). Later the water level rose from the incoming tide and “Angel” was kept by the warm spring within the manatee sanctuary by the shoreline – safe, sound and undisturbed. All manatees involved are being IDed right now so stay tuned for more exciting updates! In fact Angel was spotted with his mother today – and all is well! ”