At about eight o’clock Tuesday morning I decided it was a good time to go on a rainy beach walk. I’d been out of town the past few days and was missing the ocean. I walked down to 5th street beach to check out the seawall as usual, but noticed something in the water I had never seen before. From a distance, I convinced myself that such a massive shadow of darkness definitely had to be a huge clump of seaweed washing ashore. I ran down the seawall past the soccer field, and the closer I got the more evident it became that some huge gray fins were flapping in and out of the water.
I stared in amazement at anywhere between fourteen to seventeen manatees tightly squeezed together in a pack. I could not figure out what they were doing exactly. My first thought was that it must be mating season, but the longer I stared the more it looked as though there was one manatee that was trying to beach herself. The pack was doing everything they could to stop her from completely washing ashore. She would just lie still for a long time, and then have these convulsions, flailing her head and fins wildly and start gasping for air. There were eleven to fifteen manatees that would surround the central manatee, but they would swim off and come back again. Only four manatees stayed with her the whole time I observed. Many of them would use their heads and fins to flip over the motionless manatee, and they would rest their heads all along her body. It seemed as though the entire pack was concerned about the death of this one particular manatee.
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