Manatees are truly remarkable creatures that have captured the hearts of many with their gentle nature and unique appearance. Found in warm waters throughout the world, these large marine mammals are herbivores and are known for their love of snacking on a variety of different plants.
A couple who were visiting Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Florida stood at the edge of the water and fed floating slices of sweet potato to the resident manatees. Though these so-called “river potatoes” remained underwater, they were very happy to have visitors bearing treats that looked exactly like them. Gary Clark captured this remarkable image for Southern Living.
The manatees can be seen munching on the sweet potatoes, which are scattered throughout the water, while also appearing to resemble the very same vegetable. This image was captured by Kelly Hayes and has been shared widely on social media, with people expressing their awe and appreciation for these fascinating creatures.
Not only are manatees incredibly adorable, but they also play an important role in maintaining the health and balance of the ecosystems they inhabit. Manatees visit many of the state’s springs in winter, but you can see the gentle giants year-round at Homosassa Springs. Get here early, when they’re most active. Three feeding times daily serve each animal as much as 100 pounds of romaine lettuce and cabbage, as well as apples, bell peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Despite their lovable appearance, manatees face many threats, including habitat loss, pollution, and collisions with boats. Fortunately, efforts are underway to protect these gentle giants and their habitats, including the establishment of protected areas and education programs to promote conservation.
As we continue to learn more about these amazing creatures, it’s important to remember the vital role they play in our world’s ecosystems and the need to protect them. The photo of the manatees snacking on sweet potatoes is a reminder of their unique and lovable nature, and serves as a call to action to help protect these incredible creatures and their habitats for generations to come.