Can't some mating manatees get a little privacy, people?!
On Thursday evening, authorities were called by people concerned that a group of manatees were beached off Courtney Campbell Parkway, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Drivers exited their cars to observe the phenomenon, and police called upon Clearwater Marine Aquarium staff, who revealed that these manatees were not in danger, but rather were simply mating. Up to ten manatees were spotted.
The waters were reportedly secured with crime scene tape to protect the manatees from humans fascinated by manatee lovin'.
Back in 2002, when a hundred onlookers stopped to watch mating manatees off Boca Raton, Florida, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's Penny Husted told the Associated Press that up to 20 males could follow a female manatee until she's receptive. At that time, Husted said a female manatee "will beach herself in shallow areas to hide her genital regions and to basically rest ... It's important that people leave them alone when they do this so she can get the rest that she needs."
The Save The Manatee Club writes on their website that they often receive phone calls regarding a group of "playing" manatees: "Sometimes people also call because they are concerned that the manatees in the estrous herd are injured, stranded, or in distress. In actuality, a mating herd is sort of a free-for-all. In shallower waters, the effect can be quite dramatic with churning waters and flailing flukes and flippers."
The manatee, also known as a "sea cow," is a marine mammal, breathing air at the surface. Manatees are endangered due in large part to hunters, motorboats and fishing nets, National Geographic reports. The IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species adds that anticipated changes in their warm-water habitat could further threaten manatees.
Correction: This piece has been updated to clarify that the most recent situation occurred off the Courtney Campbell Causeway, not Hollywood Beach.
Angler Fish: Just A Little Clingy
The next time you think your mate is getting a little too attached, just be glad you're not an <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A22547838" target="_hplink">angler fish</a>. According to an h2g2 post, when a male angler fish finds a mate, he clings on for dear life. Perhaps because the angler fish is so horrifyingly unattractive, he feels that any less drastic measure would surely lose her. Thus, he bites into her, attaching himself permanently, linking his blood supply to hers. While she provides nourishment to him, he offers her sperm whenever there are eggs to fertilize. Fair trade-off?
Octopuses: A Man's Greatest Fear
A man's greatest fear? Discovery Science reports that in the <a href="http://science.discovery.com/top-ten/2009/mating-ritual/mating-ritual-01.html" target="_hplink">octopus</a> world, it's actually expected that a male's penis will break off during mating. Fortunately, it grows back in time for the next mating season.
Hippos: Where Poop Is A Turn On
There may have been a "Jerry Springer" episode about this... A male <a href="http://science.discovery.com/top-ten/2009/mating-ritual/mating-ritual-10.html" target="_hplink">hippopotamus</a> attracts a female by spraying her with his feces, Discovery Science reports. And who says bathroom talk isn't sexy?
Flamingos: Just A Touch Of Makeup
Flamingos may use pigments from gland secretions to improve the color of their feathers, thus attracting better mates. A <a href="http://www.sciencecentric.com/news/10102624-beauty-from-the-bottom-up.html" target="_hplink">study</a> from the Estacion Biologica de Donana in Spain found that there was no particular reason for flamingos to alter their colors, except for mating purposes. L'Oreal and Maybelline should look into this new potential client base.
Midges: It Sucks
A <a href="http://science.discovery.com/top-ten/2009/mating-ritual/mating-ritual-08.html" target="_hplink">midge</a> engages in intercourse by sucking out the male's bodily fluids. Enough said.
Garter Snakes: One Big Orgy
For the<a href="http://www.neatorama.com/2007/04/30/30-strangest-animal-mating-habits/" target="_hplink"> Red-Sided Garter Snake</a>, orgies aren't just a fantasy, they're very much a reality. But men, don't get too excited yet. According to Neatorama, it's the females who have sex with hundreds of partners during the mating season. The snake ladies release a pherome to attract the men and quickly a "mating ball" forms, which is, just as the name implies, a big ball of snakes trying to mate.
Porcupines: It's No Hazing Ritual
This <a href="http://science.discovery.com/top-ten/2009/mating-ritual/mating-ritual-02.html" target="_hplink">porcupine</a> mating ritual could easily be confused for a fraternity hazing ritual. But, according to Discovery Science, a male porcupine will shower a female with his urine before mating, and there's no keg stand involved.
Horseshoe Crabs: If You Like Long Walks On The Beach...
It's like an ad in the personal columns: "seeking mate for summertime romance on the beach under a full moon." Except that for <a href="http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/02/animalcourting/" target="_hplink">horseshoe crabs</a>, this isn't romantic, it's just their regular mating ritual, WIRED reports. This anthropod only mates under these seemingly idyllic circumstances.
Elephants: Keeping Romance Alive
Who said chivalry was dead? The male <a href="http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/02/animalcourting/" target="_hplink">elephant</a> takes his time to woo a female, courting her over a period of weeks before mating. While flowers and chocolate aren't included, the male does bring the female food and squirt her with water.
Mosquitoes: A Little Love Song
Who knew such an obnoxious insect could be so very romantic with its own species? <a href="http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/02/animalcourting/" target="_hplink">Mosquitoes</a> flap their little wings, producing various sound frequencies (or to us, an annoying buzz). While the male normally produces a sound around 600 hertz, the female makes a 400 hertz sound. But compromise is key with these buggers. Both sexes are willing to adjust their sound level to create a harmonic match.
Snakes: Like A Magic Trick, Only Better
According to a BBC article, not only does a <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A22547838" target="_hplink">snake</a> have <em>two</em> intromittent organs, but it also has the ability to turn its penis inside-out to better fit the female.
Dolphins: A Gay-Friendly Community
<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A22547838" target="_hplink">Dolphins</a> are quite a progressive species. Not only are they considered one of the most intelligent animals, but according to h2g2, dolphins also engage in openly gay sex. Male dolphins have been known to practice various forms of intercourse with other males, experimenting with different holes.
Ducks: This Is Just Bad
Apparently some animal species don't find rape quite as abhorrent as we do. The male <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A22547838" target="_hplink">duck</a>, also known as a drake, has a phallus so large that it can be the length of the drake himself, according to an h2g2 post. Due to his size, the drake can have sex with a female without her consent. It is not uncommon for a group of drakes to force a female to have sex, occasionally even drowning her. But the female duck has some defense mechanisms. She has the ability to store sperm in a side chamber and eject it if she is unsatisfied. It is thought that female ducks have evolved to create a complex genital passage due to the threat of unwanted sex.
Bowerbird: Not Just a Bachelor-pad
The male <a href="http://www.nileguide.com/blog/2010/03/10/the-most-ridiculous-animal-mating-rituals/" target="_hplink">bowerbird</a> doesn't settle for just any old bachelor-pad to woo his mate. Instead, NileGuide reports that he takes the time to decorate his nest, collecting feathers, flowers, berries, and shells to beautify his home and woo female Bowerbirds during mating season. The female Bowerbird chooses the nest that she likes best, and settles in with a male for the season. Perhaps men <em>should</em> spend a little more time decorating their apartments.
Cats: The Horror
It may sound like an erotic horror film, but a male <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A22547838" target="_hplink">cat</a> has hook-like barbs on his penis, h2g2 reports. During intercourse, the penis cuts the female, encouraging her to ovulate.