“As I talked to him, he seemed to be responding to my voice.”
On occasion, people visiting the waterways of Florida just might be lucky enough to catch sight of one of the region’s most iconic animals — manatees, grazing in the warm currents of the state’s crystal springs.
In areas where manatees congregate, it’s not permitted to force an interaction with them. However, manatees themselves aren’t beholden to any such restrictions.
“They are a federally protected mammal, so we never harass, feed, water or chase these gentle creatures,” Johnson told The Dodo. “We sit and watch passively. If they choose to investigate us, that is their doing.”
The other day, that’s exactly what happened.
As Johnson floated on the water, he was approached by a particularly curious manatee. Having been playfully bumped by one before, Johnson was quick to steady himself.
“I got down on my board, on my knees, to be ready,” Johnson said.
But this manatee had more in mind than merely giving him a nudge.
Here’s what happened next:
Johnson was stunned. The manatee was insistent on making his acquaintance.
“You are bound to get some curious manatees giving you a closer look. I have observed lots of behaviors from them over the years, but never anything like the video,” Johnson said. “As I talked to him, he seemed to be responding to my voice.”
The close encounter had been a brief one, but that made it no less unforgettable.
“I love seeing the manatees and I think it’s a special gift to be able to passively observe them,” Johnson said.