Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Manatee Observation and Education Center in Ft Pierce

Yesterday, Valentines Day, we decided to take a ride to the nearby Manatee Observation and Education Center.  On our way out of the campground, we took a ride to the end of the maintenance road to see if there were any alligators enjoying the warm morning sun.   We found one.

The Manatee Observation and Education Center is a waterfront wildlife and nature center in the historic downtown of Ft Pierce, Florida. Just west of the Atlantic Ocean, the center is along the saltwater Indian River Lagoon where freshwater Moore's Creek provides a resting place for manatee. The main attraction here are wild manatees that enjoy the warm waters of this unique "helped by man" area.

Manatee, known as "sea cows" are the gentle giants of salt water. They are endangered and frequently injured by boat propellers. They are harmless to humans.

During winter, as many as thirty manatees congregate in this part of Moore's Creek to keep warm. The manatee, a mammal, needs warmth when water temperatures drop below 62 degrees. Fort Pierce's Utilities Authority has a power plant that uses Moore's Creek's freshwater to cool pipes in the electrical plant. The water warms as it cools the hot pipes and then returns into Moore's Creek some 7 degrees warmer than when it was pulled into the facility.  The Manatees love it.

We arrived at the Manatee Observation and Education Center mid-morning and the sun was nice and warm. We took Lexie and Ozzie through the waterside area in their new stroller.

Lexie (L) and Ozzie (R) in their "new-to-us" stroller. 
Ozzie feels "real men" can ride in pink.

This is the covered walkway overlooking Moore's Creek where Manatees can be seen.  We didn't see any from this side of the creek so we walked across the pedestrian bridge where they were feeding around the boat docks.

We saw several Manatees here. Some adult and some babies. 
Unfortunately, we were not quick enough with the camera to get a picture of any of them. 
That's a sad commentary since the manatees move so slowly.  Nevertheless....we didn't get a single picture.
After spending some time looking at the manatees in the water, we stopped in to see the education center and gift shop. We were allowed to take the babies into the education center where they were welcomed and got lots of "ooohs" and "awwws".
A manatee skeleton.  The bones are solid --  no marrow in them.
We picked up a loose rib bone and it was very heavy.
The education center had a "touch tank" where we spent several minutes looking at the strange salt water creatures and enjoying a visit with one of the volunteers.

Marcia took lots of time giving us an up close look at everything in the tank.

This is a live conch coming out of the shell for a visit.

I had heard about the invasive species of animals being found in the waters of the Atlantic. The education center has a tank of several lion fish that we could see up close. 
No picture of the lion fish but here's the information about them.
We also saw a link eel but I forgot to take a picture of him.

One last stroll along the outdoor observation deck and another picture or two. 

Moore's Creek 

Here are a couple of photographs I took yesterday when we took a ride south of the campground -- down to Jensen Beach.  We both really enjoy the Atlantic beach side of Florida.
Somewhere along Jensen Beach.

My three babies. 

We've signed on to stay three more nights at Savannas Recreation Area Campground. We're still not sure which way we'll go when we leave here...

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