ANNA MARIA ISLAND (FOX 13) - The sight of large sea creatures near the shore makes many beach-goers think the animals are in trouble, but in the case of manatees, it typically means progress for the species.
Manatee County officials recorded a spectacular sight using a drone-mounted camera last week. About 10 manatees huddled together in the shallow beach waters of the Gulf. The county posted the video on its Facebook page and many expressed concerns in the comments about the health of the manatees.
But the animals weren’t beached – they were likely mating.
There is no specific mating period for manatees, but scientists say there is typically an increase in manatee births in late spring and early summer.
The female manatee’s gestation period is about 1 year and they will typically give birth every three to five years.
A baby manatee – or calf – will nurse for up to two years after being born under water. Calves weigh around 65 pounds and are about three feet long when they’re born.
Manatees do not form permanent bonds, according to scientists at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Instead, they travel in mating herds.
Mote scientists emphasize not to touch or disturb manatees. But if you see a herd close to the beach, feel free to enjoy from afar.