Near shore paddle brings pleasant surprise to Santa Rosa Beach resident
Santa Rosa Beach resident Rich Blasbichler captured these amazing photos on Oct. 7 while paddling with a group of manatees in the Gulf of Mexico. Paddling with his brother behind the Sea Oats Motel in Destin on their YOLO experience with the manatees brought an extra bonus to the beautiful day.
Manatees can be found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas — particularly where seagrass beds or freshwater vegetation flourish. Manatees are a migratory species. Within the United States, they are concentrated in Florida in the winter.
West Indian manatees are large, gray aquatic mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two forelimbs, called flippers, with three to four nails on each flipper. Their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout. The manatee’s closest relatives are the elephant and the hyrax (a small, gopher-sized mammal). Manatees are believed to have evolved from a wading, plant-eating animal.