|I'm telling you something about myself!|
I first read about manatees in some chapter book set in Florida--I remember being confused initially (and somewhat weirded out) because the book described them as looking like fat, wrinkly old men. Not a particularly appealing visual for an eight-year-old. Still, the concept of a "sea cow" intrigued me. I did grow up in America's Dairyland, after all. (Note: Manatees don't really have anything in common with land cows.)
I ended up studying manatees for my TAGS project at school and even wrote my very first book about them:
MANATEES: PROBLEMS HELPS
I guess I didn't know the word solutions yet?
That book included a lot of glue-sticked art clipped out of nature magazines, factual information on endangerment, and original poetry about these gentle, large herbivores. I suggested quite a few helps. I rediscovered the book on a recent trip home and found it pretty hilarious.
In fifth grade, I joined the Save the Manatee club, first adopting Boomer. The 4x6 photograph of Boomer that SMC sent with my adoption papers is still on my parents' fridge. Tragically, Boomer died in 1994 when he was hit by a speeding boat. (Boat hits are the leading cause of mortality for manatees, who otherwise can live up to 60 years. BOAT SLOW!)
Anyway, twenty-some years later I still love manatees and it appears that pop culture is catching up with me (more on that in a sec). I'm currently adopting the manatee that made it's way up to NY waters, Ilya. I've never seen one in person--hopefully a winter trip to Florida in the future will make that dream come true. In the meantime, I will have to settle for looking at Calming Manatees online.