Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In search of manatees

This picture is an interesting view of what our group of snorkelers looked like on a trip through an ocean water channel near the research lab. We set out for this trip on foot with gear in hand and on head after a tiring day of data collection. The small adventure was optional for our class but everyone opted to go. What motivated me was the possibility of seeing a manatee, even if the possibility was only slim. Frank and I were first to jump in. I could see him swimming in the water just below me, and as he went further down I followed him and began to realize that I couldn't see the bottom even though I'm sure it wasn't very deep. I just saw frank and behind him a dark brown murky abyss that seemed to go on forever. This image was quite surreal. Once the group was ready we moved in formation fighting the current as we swam upstream, observing through both sight and sound. This territory was much different than our data collection areas. The mangroves provided a habitat for many species. The tangle of mangrove roots continued into darkness along the shores convincing me that there was always much more to be seen. After heading upstream for a while we turned around for the easy downstream swim. In the end we never found a manatee but did experience a new environment where our limited sight left much to the imagination.