Manatees are hardly the most exciting mammals in the animal kingdom. They cruise lazily around in shallow water with their massive elephant-like bodies. If they were human, their peers would probably describe their personality as dull. And yet, manatees still command appeal. So much so that the manatees residing in Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas, are a marina attraction.
There are about six manatees that live around the Great Harbour Cay Marina, and I must confess, they stole my fascination when I visited the Berry Islands last. Not just because these ancient relics conjured up images of the long lost dinosaur age. They made me think, if I just touched one, I could justifiably brag about my close encounter with a diansour-ish like creature.
What truly fascinated me was how these animals of the wild had adapted in such a charming way to living in the marina environs. Manatees can live in fresh water or salt water, but they only drink fresh water. Living in the salty waters of the Bahamas, they have had to find innovative ways to quench their thirst. When it rains, they are fortunate enough to drink fresh water as it runs off the land and creates an underwater water fountain. When the sky is dry they are not so lucky.
Fortunately, at least for the manatees of Great Habour Cay, there is a human invention called the garden hose, the holy grail of fresh water. When we lowered the hose into the water, the manatees flocked. There was a mother and child pair in the harbor, and they did fight over the nozzle. The baby manatee reprimanded by the adult for hogging the hose with a gentle head butt, as if to say, it’s my turn now.
When we showered water from the side of the dock, the manatees breached the surface with their big noses and slurped up the fresh water. Participating in this quenching treat is probably the giddiest you will ever see a manatee. It was truly a site to see.
Great Harbour Cay Marina is known to travelers for many reasons – the fact that it has 65 slips “nestled inside a serene harbor”, and can accommodate yachts up to 130 feet – but its most charming claim to fame is the home it makes for its aquatic guests, the Great Harbour Cay manatees.