This story originally appeared at American Web Media.
Florida is home to all types of sea creatures, although manatees, those peaceful marine animals known to laze in warm bayous, are particularly fond of the Sunshine State. When they do surface, these cheerful creatures tend to act like sea dogs. That is, a little bit playful, good-natured, and eager for attention.
Two stand-up paddle boarders recently experienced a manatee’s curious nature up close, when one got right up close and decided to relax on her raft. At one point, this odd couple even held hands (or flipper and hand).
Heartwarming moment aside, the manatee isn’t as well-known as the sea lion or seal, possibly because they don’t surface as often as their more popular counterparts. Defenders.org described manatees as “well-known for their gentle, slow-moving nature,” and “known to body surf or barrel roll when playing.”
The group also deemed November “Manatee Awareness Month” to build awareness about the issues affecting Florida’s gentlest underwater resident. “Unfortunately, the Florida manatee population is endangered, and these animals face a number of human-made threats,” the group explained.
“In November, as manatees search for the warm-water shelters once common along the Florida coast, we take this time to raise public awareness for these beloved yet endangered sea creatures.”
Speeding boats remain one of the manatee’s biggest threats, especially because these slow-moving creatures find it difficult to get out of the way. The issue has only grown as boat ownership swells in keeping with local development.
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Fortunately, Manatee awareness month and with other efforts to promote the laidback marine mammal are slowly encouraging boat captains to slow down. “It’s a life-changing experience for some folks,” said Capt. John Pann of the public’s general reaction to playing with this friendly creature at the adventure center where he works.
“You get in the water, you see how friendly and loving they are, you’re much more likely to want to protect that animal,” he said. “You’ll never speed through a manatee zone again.”
In the meantime, cute cameos like this one, which has already garnered millions of page views on YouTube, certainly can’t hurt the manatees’ cause! The adorable clip, which you can view below, was captured on film by Florida news stations WPTV. What would you do if a manatee got this close?