12/16/02 - Boise -
This slide is a picture of the baby manatee and me. I was not aware that LeRoy had gone on a tour of the Aquarium before me, but when I had my first chance to visit the site and stepped in front of this exhibit I screamed the words I want one. This is exactly what LeRoy had already predicted I would do.
I simply fell head over heels in love with this creature. This girl is just a baby. She is only, believe it or not, six weeks old. She has been rescued by the Veracruz public aquarium and loved into surviving each hour. She needs to be fed every 3 hours throughout the 24-day. She is being fed dolphin milk and slowly learning to at least think about eating vegetation.
The young lady who gave me the private tour of the behind the scenes tour was so very kind. She was so informative, and she had so much knowledge in regards to this incredible animal. She has plans for her future education which all revolve around safe guarding Manatees for all of us.
This baby was orphaned having no mother to nurture her. She fell into very caring and devoted parents at the Aquarium. She was not even scared of me which simply amazed me. How can I ever express the words of joy to be able to touch this beauty, to look at her so close up and to talk with her and blow her a kiss? I felt like the luckiest person on the Planet, and I never ever wanted to leave. I could not for the life of me understand how anyone could eat one, destroy one or harm one.
I told LeRoy I just had to help them. They are endangered animals. Boats, fish netting, and hunters are killing them. Other horrible stories were shared with me. At the Aquarium they have several tanks that house these animals, and they actually release some of the animals once they are healed from their wounds.
The Public Aquarium plays such an important role in teaching every single person they come in contact with about the loosing battle these animals are facing. When looking at this baby and knowing how much it took to bring her into the world I know that time is running out to get the message out. To think that this baby allowed me to pet her is still amazing to me.
As you will notice in the following slides I spent more time with the baby Manatee than any other part of the Aquarium. I keep telling LeRoy how badly I wanted one. As the tour continued I also noticed I was not the only one in love with the Manatee. The staff keeps checking on her. The Manatee kitchen at the Aquarium is at least twice as big as the kitchen for the staff at the Aquarium.
In this slide you can see the six-week-old baby manatee close up. You can see that even at this young age she tends to trust and think those who come visit her are members of her family. As I said earlier these animals are dying in the wild in so many ways and so fast that some type of recovery program needs to be implemented and fast.
I was fascinating by her trust for she had never met me before yet she did not blink an eye to sneak a pet and a kiss on her sweet head. I question again how can anyone hurt an animal so adorable. No one knows what happened to her mother. All they know is that this baby was found orphaned and just minutes from loosing her time on earth. With each loss of the Manatee廣 we loose so much more than even I realized.
I say this because the baby manatee will not reach adult hood until the age of 8 years. Only then can she carry baby and only one at a time. After the first 8-year wait it takes five years in between the next baby. These mammals only live to be about 40 years old so in their lifetime depending on their safety they can only have about 7 babies. I don廠 know how we will ever catch up on the loss other than to think of it as one manatee at a time.
I also think of the advancements we have made in our own fertilization methods. Perhaps some of them can be implemented for these incredible animals that have more to give than most of us realize. Since I left this beautiful creature I have never stopped talking about her. My heart goes out to this Public Aquarium and its effort to educate others about the true struggle facing the Manatee廣.
I also think one thing we also tend to forget is that when we work with one animal we must continue to think about all that effects them. To make certain their source of vegetation is protected and managed. Also the habitat needs to be studied and protected.
I can not even begin to imagine the fate of all the animals struggling for their lives from the oil spill in Spain.
My thoughts keep going back to how in the World can we get people to understand and share our compassion for these animals. The life in the ocean is hidden under water and most people simply can not see them. Public Aquariums do such a service when they allow people to experience this life close up.
Since growing my own baby clown fish I have a very difficult time eating any fish at all let alone watching any one else eat one with its eyes still intact on the platter. Juan laughed at me for in Mexico this is how most of the fish is served.
It is so important to note that these animals have true feelings. These feelings are not unlike our own. When orphaned they feel the loss and need us so desperately. When hungry they too feel the same feelings we do. When they loose their mate, or baby they cry real tears. Yet these animals can not talk to us. We need never give up or shut up.
I made a quite promise to the Mantes of Veracruz, I whispered, I would be back. I would continue to spread their word, their desperation and need for our help. As if understanding my words this baby climbed further out of the water and looked at me with those piercing eyes with such trust she knew we were friends forever!
In this slide you see some of the older manatees. They have them as old as five years. It is truly amazing how big they are and one can only try and guess how much food these guys must consume in one week. These are considered the mermaids of the oceans or sea cows, but in my mind they are simply remarkable.
Again even the biggest of the animals in the tanks were so friendly. They came right up to us. Lined up as if to wait to be petted. They simply loved to be loved. If there are any young marine biologist looking for a field to study, I could think of no better way to wake up each morning than to work with these adoring animals.
This is where I try again to make my message clear. Having these animals outside of the ocean learning as much as we can about them can only assist those trying to work with them in the ocean.
The first time I saw the big manatee placing his whole mouth over my tour guide廣 hand I could not believe what I was seeing. It was only seconds before he came up to me and requested that I trusted him as much as he trusted me. I looked at my tour guide for permission and before it was granted my hand was in the mouth of the manatee. No single words will describe how deeply touched LeRoy and I am by this trip.
LeRoy had the opportunity to tour the Aquarium a couple of days earlier. He told me of the story of a scuba diver in the Manatee tank. The scuba diver was busy working scrubbing algae with a soft brush from the sides of the tank. It was not very long before the first Manatee came up to the diver and started butting her with his head. The diver knew what this meant and smiled, turned her attention from scrubbing the sides of the tank to the side of the enormous manatee.
This must have been a message to all the other manatees because they all started towards the diver. The Manatee politely lined up one by one to wait for their own personal brushing. While they were being brushed they are expressing their appreciation to the diver by nodding their head and rubbing up on them. The only problem came when it was the next ones turn for the first Manatee did not want it to be over. If you paid close attention the line never became shorter they just keep getting back in line
These animals have yet to breed in captivity. I am certain it will not be long before I hear of their first homegrown Veracruz baby. One must realize the wait for this success is years in the making for it takes 8 years for them to reach adulthood and 5 years in-between each birth. They are the closest relative to the elephant.
We then visited a couple of manatees that were in a separate tank. They were injured and were being treated for their massive injuries. One had injuries from a fisherman廣 boat, and another from getting caught in netting. It was left with gashes and only hope for someone to assist them.
I realize the gift people who live so close to the ocean are given. They can make such a huge difference. In Boise, Idaho I feel we are screaming at the top of our lungs. We are trying to open minds and hearts, and in the end we hope to make a difference. In this picture you can see me making my goodbye promise to the young manatee. It touches me when trying to share these days and events of our journey with you.
So much kindness, willingness to learn, to share, and a true desire by others to help make a difference always touch LeRoy and me. We always leave with more than we arrived with, and the memories will remain with us forever. This message will be shared with all who care to listen. Sometimes we tell the same story over and over again. My staff looks at each other and wonder should we let these two out ever again.
It also came to mind that while I was having difficulty communicating with others on this trip, due to my lack of understanding Spanish and their lack of understanding English, these animals do not have the same barriers. They did not look at me as someone they could not communicate with nor look at me to see my color, race, religion, age, weight, sex or wealth.
What a welcome break this was. I will never be able to understand the hatred released on the World by people. Just pick up your morning newspaper; turn on CNN we are simply surrounded by it. Why people choose to steal, to cheat, to kill is beyond me, but even more impossible for me to understand is the mistreatment of any animal. There is so much we could learn from all animals if we just take the time.
I find that many of the people involvement with the Animals have special gifts and tend to want to give. They are caring people who not only have the desire to care for the animals but never forget about the environment which is the true Foundation to all of our lives. For without Mother Nature what is left?
The staff keeps the aquariums in Veracruz cleaner than any public aquarium we have visited. These sand beds are just part of the filter system
If we do not put her first and foremost what difference does it matter who the World power is? What difference does it matter how much money you have in the bank. What are you leaving to your children and your grandchildren? If we would begin everyday with this in mind I am certain the World would be a much better place. The animals we love will have hope and perhaps be around for many generations to enjoy.
It broke my heart to have to say goodbye to the Manatees but I had more animals to visit and my animals to go home to. I learned so much from this experience and will continue to learn more. I was not aware that the Manatees do not get cancer. I asked why this was so and they explained that humans have two cells to fight off cancer where the Manatee廣 have four.
Once again it brings home the point if we just take the time to reach out the gift we get back is usually much more precious.
I think that by writing this article we could develop an adopt an a Manatee program to help the Veracruz Aquarium; perhaps the first one we could name Precious.
PART 4 COMING SOON
FOR THE LAST 5 YEARS WE HAVE WORKED VERY HARD TO PURCHASE, TRADE, AND SAVE AS MANY TYPES OF CORALS AS WE CAN.
We are having a special on all of the coral cuttings. WHEN YOU PURCHASE 5 AT THE REGULAR PRICE OF $100 WE WILL GIVE YOU TWO FREE CORALS!. We will continue to provide the most current data on reef farming for both education and profit.
JOIN THE RESEARCH FOUNDATION
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1726 Merrill St.
Boise Idaho 83705
|Many of the rare corals are offered to our members for 2 years before they are put on sale. We will soon have an E-mail list that will list the rarest color forms of sps corals and soft corals such as Xenia and Mushrooms.|