High on our agenda for our Florida trip was a visit to Blue Springs, a bit west of Orlando. This is a classic limestone (karst) spring, carved out by upwellings of sweet water. We devoted our last morning to it, as a sweet cherry atop the luscious sundae Sunday of our trip. It was cold and foggy when we arrived, making us envy the manatees stacked like cordwood in the pellucid 72 degree water of the river. My first wild manatees, anywhere. Yes, I'd seen the Amazonian freshwater manatee in Brazil and Guyana, but only in captive situations. Heck, I'd gotten right down and hugged them!
I was overwhelmed by seeing free-living wild manatees--so very many--I counted 80 in one turn of my head! Yeah, yeah, I was bawling. I'd waited a long time to see my first wild sirenians, and I'd strained my eyes peering into the muddy waters of many a tropical river trying. This was too easy. It was like they were waiting for a bus, and the bus was us!
FloridaCracker says tilapia make huge, meter-wide bowl-shaped nests, crowding out native sunfishes. Bah. Why do so many escaped exotics have to live so darn large?