Monday, March 12, 2012

They Came from Below (and Above)

The yard surrounding my childhood home was filled with all sorts of animals: birds, squirrels, groundhogs, moles, rabbits, and the occasional deer. Living on a boat, the wildlife we encounter in our "yard" is much different than what I experienced as a land-based child. We certainly have our share of birds living within our marina neighborhood--the most interesting of which are fish-hunters:

However, the most abundant animal life lurks within the water below.

A few days ago, while boarding Sea Gem, we saw a shadowy figure hovering just below our hull. At first, we thought it was our keel, but upon closer inspection, we realized the object was actually a massive (100lb +) tarpon. It was a bit unsettling to see such a large fish lingering in the water directly below Sea Gem. Each time we transferred Moishe on/off the boat, I kept envisioning him falling in and being swallowed whole by the mammoth fish.

Of course, this fear didn't deter me from wanting to keep the fish around. To encourage the tarpon to take up permanent residence beneath our boat, I decided to offer it some food. Unfortunately, all I had on-hand that day was a veggie sushi roll, which proved to be of little interest to the tarpon. The fish soon left, but thankfully returned a few days later with some friends:

It is hard to appreciate the size of these fish from the picture above, but I can assure you--they are huge.

Tarpon aren't the only sea creatures swimming within in our marina's waters. Over the summer, we had an infestation of moon jellyfish (picture a solid mass of thousands of jellies floating in and out with the tide). Schools of Sheepshead are common sightings, but sometimes we get lucky and are graced with the presence of tropical beauties:

While the majority of what lives in the waters surround our boat is cold-blooded, sea mammals, particularly dolphins, pass through the marina sporadically. The other day, however, we saw something near our boat that I had been waiting for months to see: a manatee! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to snap a picture of the particular manatee we saw, but thankfully, I have some manatee photos that I took a few years back (for the most part, manatees all look the same, so you aren't missing anything by viewing this out-of-date photo):

Although we hope the jellyfish masses won't return anytime soon (or ever), we welcome the prospect of a manatee infestation.

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