How many of us can say that we’ve made friends with a manatee? Probably not many. Well, one paddle boarder in Florida got the opportunity of a lifetime when a manatee decided to come over and introduce himself. You won’t believe how the interaction went!
Mantees, also known as sea cows, are large aquatic marine mammals. Although they are an endangered species, many people in Florida have had the opportunity to spot them out.
19. Endangered Species
Since they are a passive and slow-moving mammals, they have been endangered for quite some time. There are tons of threats to their environment since the 18th century. Most of these are man-made problems, unfortunately.
18. Serious Problems
Manatees have been faced with a ton of problems including boat collisions, hunting, destruction of their habitat, and toxic red tides. However, states like Florida, where many manatees hang around during the winter, have gone out of their way to preserve the species.
Florida is also the only state in the United States where you are allowed to legally swim with manatees. Many locals and tourists head out to the springs where many of the manatees head to for warmth during the winter.
16. Unexpected Appearance
While many people expect to see manatees on their trips to the springs, one paddle boarder had an unexpected visit from one! When her and her friend were off paddle boarding, these two friends got the surprise of a lifetime.
15. Paddle Boarding
Celine Chasteen was out paddle boarding in Jupiter, Florida with her friend. The two of them were having a good time and were enjoying the sunny Florida weather. Then, they were greeted by quite the unexpected local celebrity!
14. Saying Hello
As Celine and her friend stopped for a short break on their boards, a fellow swimmer decided to stop by. An adorable manatee had stopped by and placed two flippers right on her board. He was very forward about this meeting!
13. 30 Seconds
The manatee kept his flippers on the board for about 30 seconds, allowing Celine to get a good glimpse of him. After the 30 seconds passed, the manatee felt like he overstayed his visit and jumped back into the water.
12. Crazy Experience
“We were going along the coast and I saw what I thought were rocks, but then they started moving,” Chasteen told The Dodo. “The next thing I know, there’s a manatee putting his flippers on my board.”
11. Really Cute
“At first, I was like, ‘What is going on?’ But honestly, it was so cool. I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” Chasteen said, adding: “I thought he was really cute. He was really nice and stuff. I hope he drops by again.”
10. Camera Footage
Fortunately for all of us, the adorable encounter was caught on camera so that all of us could see! The video was uploaded onto the Internet where it instantly went viral.
9. Viral Footage
The video was shared on the WPTV Facebook page. It has since received over 6 million views! Everyone has been going crazy over the hilarious interaction between Celine and the silly manatee.
8. Important Notice
One of the most important things to note from the video footage is that neither one of the paddle boarders ever touches the manatee. This is because it is always best to maintain a respectful distance from the manatees.
According to the Save the Manatee Club, it is important to keep your distance because the manatees are so endangered. It is very easy to disturb the manatees natural habitat through unintended mishaps.
6. General Rules
There are also a ton of general rules that you may not have known when interacting with manatees. One of the biggest is that it is illegal to pet a manatee with two hands. However, there is an exception to the rule.
5. Rule Exception
According to Captain Traci, who runs many of the manatee boat tours in Florida, “The Endangered Species Act forbids touching a manatee unless it touches you first.” There are also three main rules to abide by when interacting with manatees.
4. Three Main Rules
“Whatever you do,” Captain Traci advices, “And it doesn’t matter how excited you are — remember the three golden rules: minimize splash noise; act with very slow movements; and when you do touch one of these friendly, gentle gray giants on the back or stomach, never touch with more than one hand at a time.”
3. Best Months
There are also very specific months in which you can see the manatees. The months of December and March are key months as the manatees make their way into the natural springs at Crystal River to keep warm.
2. Tons of Food
The springs at Crystal River also provide the manatees with a great amount of food. It seems that the manatee that interacted with Celine may have been on the lookout for food!
1. Lucky Paddle Boarder
Not everyone gets the amazing opportunity to interact with a manatee face-to-face. We’re more than sure that Celine will remember this moment for the rest of her life!