Thankfully, most of the creatures that live under the sea are friendly and docile. They will simply swim past us or ignore us completely, and we won’t be a nuisance to their lives. Yet, there are others that aren’t so timid. With the likes of sharks and stingrays roaming the shallows, you need to be on your best behavior and keep an eye out for unwelcome visitors to the beach. Although there are normally lifeguards and experts who do that for us, there are some animals that slip through the net, and we don’t realize they’re there until they are right in front of us. That’s exactly what happened when frightened beachgoers noticed dark forms swimming towards them…
A normal beach day
Every year, millions of people grab their towels, lock their front doors and take themselves down the beach – because what else are you supposed to do on your day off? With luscious water, golden sands and fun activities on offer, beaches provide fun for all of the family no matter your age. However, we have to remember that the ocean is a whole other world to the terra firma we know and love. This place is home to some of the most mysterious creatures in the animal kingdom, and sometimes it’s hard to see what’s coming our way. This is one of the main reasons why a group of beachgoers were so shocked when their days were interrupted by dark forms coming towards them…
A trip to Florida
However, to truly understand this story we need to be transported to where it happened in the first place. So, we need to take ourselves back to 2012 and imagine ourselves frolicking around on the famous Fort Lauderdale beach. With thousands of visitors every single year, this beach is one of the most famous beaches in America, and visitors can’t wait to enjoy the sand, the sun and the ocean during the summer months – or even in the winter! While the waters of Fort Lauderdale are normally clean and clear, there was something unusual about this day, but the beachgoers didn’t realize what it was until it was too late.
Hordes of people
On this particular day, the beach was teeming with people. Families were spending the day together and playing in the water, students were taking a break from their studies, and elderly people were enjoying the spring weather. There was nothing unusual about that, because the people of Fort Lauderdale are used to seeing their beach overrun with people. As one of the most popular spring break hot spots, students from across the country set up shop on these shores each year. Nevertheless, this year was different to the rest.
Lurking in the waters
On the day in question, it seemed like any other day. The spring sun was beating down on those who were enjoying the beach, the turquoise sea was ebbing back and forth and creating the smallest of waves, and people were playing in the shallows and cooling themselves down. Before too long, the ease of the beach was replaced with uneasiness, as people started to notice dark forms lurking in the water. In fact, it seemed as if they were getting closer and closer to where they were standing…
A man on a mission
One of the first people to see the dark shapes lurking in the water was Craig Hossack. As soon as he spotted the shapes, he knew that he had to get them on camera. So, like a man on a mission, Craig whipped out his phone and started to record the movement of the shapes in the water. He watched as the shapes got closer, but he just couldn’t make out what they were. Nevertheless, he continued to film the events as they unfolded, and his footage was later used by a local news station.
Caught on camera
The events of this unique beach day were caught on camera, and Craig’s footage shows exactly what happened next. As the swimmer’s of Fort Lauderdale Beach were enjoying the warm water and making the most of the spring weather, they began to notice things weren’t quite right. The normally clear water was becoming cloudier, and there were dark shapes moving near to them. However, it was clear that they had absolutely no idea what these shapes were and what they were doing there, and were at first incredibly confused.
As the dark forms started to edge closer to the shoreline, those who were nearest to them were able to get a better look at what was below the water. At first, the swimmers and those paddling in the water thought that the large grey shapes were rocks that were simply being pushed ashore – but that wasn’t the case. Then, they started to wonder whether the shapes were just large clumps of seaweed that were making their way towards them – but that wasn’t the case either. The reality was much more bizarre.
With nobody able to get a clear picture of what the dark forms were, the lifeguard on the beach decided to get involved. By this point, more and more people were starting to form a group around the large objects, and with sharks and stingrays known to their waters, the lifeguard had to make a difficult decision. He walked towards the group of people and asked them all to back away. It was his responsibility to keep them safe, and he was going to do everything he could to do that.
A new discovery
However, as the lifeguard got a closer look at the objects that were under the water, the picture became much clearer. The objects were not sharks, they were not rocks, and they were definitely not clumps of seaweed. Instead, they were a group of manatees! The lifeguard was incredibly shocked by this discovery, as they had never had manatees so close to their beach before. Although they did live in the waters beyond, they rarely came close enough to see by the human eye. This was something extraordinary.
A tone of surprise
Before too long, the word spread that the lumps in the water were manatees, and people began to crowd around once more. After all, they knew enough about manatees to know that they were not a direct threat to life. Craig Hossack continued to capture the whole ordeal on his camera and later spoke to the Local 10 News about the experience. During his interview, he noted that seeing the manatees up close was something that took him completely by surprise. He had never seen anything like it before.
A family of five
Craig also noted during his local interview that there were more manatees than they first thought under the water. In fact, there was a family of five! He later spoke to the Sun Sentinel about what he saw and noted that many of them were young. They were smaller than the adult manatees, and they would bump the noses of the bigger ones – almost as if to get the attention of their parents. He was astounded as they floated closer and closer to the beach and couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
Craig was also joined on the beach by his wife, Gina Hassock. Gina also spoke to the Local 10 News about the experience and noted that she could immediately tell that the manatees were not dangerous. On that day, she watched the manatees for around 30 minutes, and they showed no signs of aggression. Instead, they were happy playing around with themselves and their family in the water and even seemed to like the fact that they had an audience watching them. She knew they were harmless.
A growing crowd
It was a good thing that the manatees enjoyed an audience because one was quickly developing on the shores of Fort Lauderdale Beach. With the new visitors causing a storm, the lifeguard continued to keep people away from the animals and to go back to their day – but it just didn’t work. Those who lived in Fort Lauderdale were over the moon to see new animals on their beaches, and tourists were intrigued by the intriguing animal many of them had never seen before in their lives.
Although people were still standing in the water next to the manatees, they were not close enough to intrude on their business. The crowd were respectful of the space that they were giving the animals and knew they shouldn’t touch them. After all, the people of Florida have been taught for many years about the ‘manatee manners’ that they are supposed to adopt whenever they come into contact with one of the impressive sea creatures. They had those rules in their minds the whole time.
Keeping in line
While there are many rules when it comes to manatees, the most important one is that you should never disturb a manatee. This means that you don’t touch them anywhere on their body, you don’t invade their waters, and you don’t try and split them up from the other manatees. According to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, these rules are in place to ensure that the manatees continue to thrive in the wild and are not harmed by humans in any way.
In fact, there are numerous manatee viewing prohibitions that you have to abide by if you find yourself in contact with a manatee. Because they are wild animals, it’s important that these manatees are given the chance to thrive in their natural environment. You are not allowed to feed them in any way, you are not allowed to poke them through the water, you are not allowed to ride a manatee, and you are definitely not allowed to separate a mother and her calf. That is strictly forbidden.
Do not disturb
Although it can be easy to get closer to a manatee to see what it looks like and what it’s doing under the water, it’s important to give them the space that they need to naturally roam around the seafloor. This is essential for their survival because manatees come to the surface normally after five minutes underwater to take a breath. If their path to the surface is blocked in any way, this may affect their survival. This is why surfers and kayakers need to be wary of paddling above a manatee.
Closest living relative
Of course, we all know that manatees live in the water, but it may surprise you to learn that the closest living relative to the manatee is the elephant! These two animals are actually extremely closely related, and the more you think about it – the more it makes sense. After all, an elephant has a trunk on the front of its face, and a manatee has a longer nose that helps it scavenge for food. These two animals also survive off the same kind of diet, as both of them mostly eat plants and foliage.
The important stuff
As well as their physical similarities, it seems as though these two animals are also incredibly similar in their personalities and their ambitions in life. In fact, they both have the same priorities in life. Elephants spend most of their time walking around the savannah as a herd and eating the plants around them, and the leaves from the trees and manatees also spend most of their life eating. To be precise, manatees spend between six to eight hours each day eating! They spend the rest either asleep or roaming the ocean.
As unique as an elephant
Although the people of Florida knew that manatees roamed the oceans around them, seeing the animals in person was just as incredible as seeing an elephant in front of them. As they went about their days on Fort Lauderdale Beach, they had no idea that their day would be interrupted by these magnificent creatures – but they were not annoyed by this in any way. Instead, they were mesmerized. Yet, none were quite as mesmerized as Gina Hossack, who was completely overwhelmed by the sight.
A beachside gift
As Gina spoke to Local News 10 after the event, her shock was apparent. In her eyes, what they had all witnessed that day was a true gift. It was something they had never seen before and was something they had never even dreamed of seeing in their lifetime. Yet, now that she has seen them she is intent on witnessing the incredible creatures in action again. Unfortunately, her husband is not as hopeful and believes it was a one-off experience that they were extremely lucky to see.