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Humanatee Festival

By: Jennifer Ryan
By: Jennifer Ryan

In St. Marks, Florida where it's time to slow down for gentle giants, manatee season has arrived, and the amazing sea cows have a festival of their own.

In St. Marks you'll find all walks of life.

Betsy Knight of the Big Bend Wildlife Sanctuary says, "We have bald eagles, owls, screech owls."

They are all permanently injured, usually by humans, used as education for a festival to promote Florida's favorite wild mammal: the manatee.

Cathy Finch, the co-chairman of Humanatee, says, "This is the 15th festival to welcome back the manatee to our rivers. They already showed up this year. Maybe they're out now?"

But this year something's different. Boaters are asked to pay even more attention to the gentle sea giants. Biologists say their swimming patterns have changed.

With little food on the riverbanks, the manatees go to the channels where they share the road with boaters.

Trish Hanson, who loves the manatee, says, "It's very important to not boat around them. They get hurt."

It's the reason for the season and this festival, a simple reminder that sharing the river can save lives.

The Humanatee Festival takes place in St. Marks every spring. Manatee season lasts from April to October.


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