March 13, 2012... Day of the Anhinga

It started off like any day on the hook. It was beautiful and sunny in Ft. Pierce, with light winds and seas and we wanted to get out and explore the coastline near our anchorage. It is a mix of development and mangrove and looked promising. And, since we've been having dolphins around the boat all week, we thought we might be able to see some from sea level. So we splashed the kayak and set off.

The first thing we noticed was the osprey on top of our mast. That was very unusual and we thought we were lucky to have him. Lots of birds everywhere - so many anhingas, some drying their wings and looking regal. Seemed like we were in the heart of anhinga country.

The numbers of anhinga were soon outstripped by the number of pelicans - dive bombing for fish all around us, making a racket with their splashing. One greedy bird practically choked itself with a fish that was way too big for him. We watched it try to get that fish down -- it took several tries. There were also great blue and little blue herons on shore, some egrets in the mangroves, turkey vultures circling, even a family of ducks -- all very serene as we lazed around in Jennings Cove, a small shallow cove in the mangroves.

And then it happened. We had just picked up our paddles to start back to Anhinga when out of nowhere there was a gigantic bang against the kayak, the front raised up, muddy water splashing over the sides, and frantic underwater motion towards the other shore. Patti was screaming and John laughing -- but we were both drenched with very muddy water from head to toe and mouths filled with grit. Ugh. Scared (at least Patti admits to this...) we paddled home, trying to figure out what happened to us. John thinks we went over some rays submerged in the mud that got flustered when they sensed us above them; their movement was just so fast, it had to be something large that has instant propulsion, and can hide in 1-2 feet of water. Patti just hoped that whatever it was, it (or they?) wasn't following us back to the boat.

OK. Back on Anhinga. Running the engine to heat up some water for needed showers. John had just gone below when Patti sees it -- a manatee swimming up to check us out! Had to be at least 12 feet long, a mottled brown color, with some unfortunate scars running down its back - looked like previous hits from boat props. It stayed and investigated long enough for us to run for the camera. We felt so lucky... then wondered if this was our creature from the black lagoon and had followed us back to the boat... That's our wildlife life... The Day of the Anhinga!

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