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What Manatees Teach Us

All nature effects nature. A simple statement, yes, but with drastic results. This cold winter season the manatees have an important lesson for us about nature, about how all of the creatures in nature are connected in an effort to survive and thrive.

Manatees, similar to humans, develop habits and routines in their daily adventures. They have migration paths that they follow. Their paths include warm waters. Us humans also have our migration paths, the circles within which we travel, and try to find a warm and safe place to reside most of the time. This innate tendency toward familiarity and safety is important to our survival.

While manatees are intelligent enough to know they need other manatees to survive, humans know this too. Since January, 2010, the temperatures of ocean waters off of the Florida coast have been colder than usual. Some may say this is caused by global warming or climate change, others may say it is the normal cycle of temperature change and Mother Nature’s moods. Whatever the reason, the manatees may not care. All they know is that their waters have been colder all year. Their home has actually been getting colder over the past few years. Their place of comfort, routine, and the circles within which they travel and trust, have become unwelcoming. This December was a most challenging month for them as they came together to rely on each other to survive.

When humans are in need of warmth or nurturing, we seek out hugs and kindness. The manatees huddled. They huddled together for warmth to survive another night, another day. They huddled together for a sense of safety. A power plant in Port Everglades Florida has a heater that luckily warms the water. The manatees have found warm waters there. Is this not an amazing turn of events? A power plant which generates electric for humans can also help to keep the manatees warm in their oceanic abode. While some say that humans can intervene more to help the manatees, such as providing heated bays, others are concerned that interfering too much with nature could cause negative consequences - what would happen if the funding for that man-made heated bay was cut and the manatees remained because their migration pattern was set? How can humans truly interact with nature and animals in the most beneficial way for all?

We may not know all of the answers and may not even all agree on the hows and whys, but in the end, the similar needs to depend on each other for survival keeps us connected. The image of the manatees huddled together to help each other to survive is a great reminder of the kindness and endless life possibilities to be achieved when we come together to support each other.

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