Yesterday I shared pics from our January 25 trip on the Silver River. That post covered the general paddle, turtles and gators. Today’s post includes pics of manatee and monkeys.
When we stopped for lunch at the old state park dock we met paddlers coming downstream who told us they had spotted manatee up near the head spring. Instead of heading back as planned we decided to paddle on up to see if we could find them. Just as we passed the island we were greeted by a blast of air from the water as a young manatee surfaced right in front of our boats.
Manatee sleep underwater but need to surface to breathe every 15 minutes or so. When active and feeding they will surface to breathe every 2-3 minutes. Be sure to give them their space, especially when they are feeding and sleeping. Manatee can be curious and if they come to you, that’s okay. But you should not harass them by crowding them. They need their all their energy to eat and sleep.
On the way up we ran across two separate troops of monkeys. Actually they are Rhesus macaques, so technically they are not monkeys, but that’s what they are called locally. There are several troops along the Silver River and several more have been established upstream and downstream on the Silver’s confluence with the Ocklawaha River.
The troops generally come down to the river in the afternoons or earlier on hot days. There are usually several adult “guard monkeys” consisting of the males and “aunties” or females without little ones, that control the perimeters and stand guard for the youngsters and babies. Be very wary of the “guard monkeys” as they can be very protective and will attack if they feel the troop is threatened.
By six weeks of age babies can move independent of their mothers, but generally they stay within a short distance of her for about a year. We can spend hours watching the antics of the babies as they explore their world – climbing vines, jumping from tree to tree, climbing out to the ends of branches to reach the tender young buds, chasing and tumbling with each other on the river banks.
We have watched the monkeys eating the new buds on trees, nuts, leaves, flowers, seeds and grasses. When not playing and eating you will frequently see them grooming each other.