A herd of mating manatees, nearly beaching themselves in the throes of their lovemaking, were filmed going at it by one of dozens of swimmers at the edge of a crystal clear Florida beach.
Several large males can be seen vying for a nursing mother as her (probably) nearly weaned calf struggles to stay at her side.
As the action takes place, dozens of giggling, but clearly amazed, swimmers follow along, with several seeming almost to be attacked by the normally docile creatures.
What makes this video so special is the rarity of such a sighting, especially so close to shore.
Manatees are extremely solitary animals and mature females come into estrus only about every 3 years, delivering just a single calf after successful mating. Nursing goes on for about a year and a half, so it means that this sea cow and her calf are very likely at the end of that cycle.
The event is beautifully choreographed, showing the sublime grace and swimming abilities of these mammals and the crowd is clearly titillated and excited. Thankfully, most of the onlookers merely watch in awe and obvious admiration for one of Nature's rarest sights.
No wonder they were mistaken for mermaids by ancient mariners.
Here's the video.
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