My Native Florida mentor Mark Lane had a great column today that reminded me of something that gave me the giggles.
He wrote about going to see the manatees in Blue Springs and how Florida is the only place to see such a wintry sight. There are many things about Florida that seem a mystery to newcomers to our state. The manatee is one of those things. And I like to have fun with their ignorance. (Oh, come on, it's not like I'm hurting anyone)
I had a co-worker once who had just moved to Daytona Beach from Tennessee. While he was waiting for his family to move down and join him, he was staying at a hotel on the beach. Each morning he came to work talking about how great it was to start the day with a jog on the beach - beaches being something new to him as a daily part of life.
So one morning he's telling me about his jog and seeing the seagulls and waves and I say . . .
"You haven't seen any manatees on the beach have you?"
What? Um no? Those are like sea cows right?
"Yea, kind of."
I didn't think those things came out of the water? Can they get on the beach?
"Well, you're jogging at about dawn each day, right?"
"Then you might come across one, so be careful. Manatees come on shore to nest, and they usually go back to the ocean at dawn."
Really? They nest on the beach?
"Yes and they are very territorial, so if you see one, just stay far away from it."
Are they dangerous?
"Well they're pretty big, so I suggest you give the manatee a wide berth."
Hmm, ok. Thanks.
And do you know that he went on believing that manatees lumber onto shore to nest for about a year. Finally I had to tell him the truth when I found out he was teaching this "fact" to his middle-school aged son. It was one thing for me to fool him, but I didn't want his innocent son becoming the brunt of jokes at school. Or failing that science class with a bogus report on manatee nesting season.