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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Feb. 22, 2016 3 years ago

BIG GIRL NOW: An agressive manatee almost threw me overboard (and I found some dung)

Let's just say my kayaking trip wasn't exactly calm and serene.
by: Emily Blackwood News Editor

I think we can all agree that last weekend was too beautiful to be spent inside. Whether you were running (and if you were, I'm sorry), brunching or a unrecommended combo of the two, I hope you got some much needed sunshine on your skin.

On Sunday I did everything in my power to be outdoorsy, but unbeknownst to me, there was a price to pay. 

After a good half-hour of convincing my boyfriend, Nick, to get out of bed — and an additional forty-five minutes taking him to Publix to make sure he was given all the proper nutrients a Lunchable and a Gatorade can provide — we were on our way to Tomoka State Park to kayak. 

At first, the day was seemingly perfect: weather warm enough to enjoy, but cool enough not to sweat, a bag full of the most delicious jalapeño chips, and smooth, calm waters.

Even paddling the kayak was a lot easier than I had anticipated. But that could of had been because Nick was doing all the work. Whoops. 

We docked at one of the many random beaches on the Tomoka River to have some sandwiches that I kept safe in my fanny pack (Side note: Nick really loves the fanny pack. Don't ask him about it. Just take my word). After eating, we started to explore the little island we had found in hopes of discovering something cool like a buried treasure or a forgotten pair of Ray Bans. 

What we did not expect to discover was a pile of dung. More specifically human dung. 

"It's fresh," said Nick, which was literally the worst possible thing he could say.

A slight fear crept over me as I began to wonder if the mystery defecator was still within earshot, watching us. I mean, two kids alone in the woods IS a classic recipe for a horror movie. 

With my paranoia now completely in control, I convinced Nick to pack up and leave. I didn't want to confront the owner of the feces, who might also be owner of the pair of cheap sunglasses we found hanging from a tree by the scene of the crime. I guess the person didn't want to wear shades while doing the deed. Don't worry, we didn't take them. 

Back on the water, all felt calm again. Grateful I was with a guy who was willing to go on these adventures with me, I attempted it to contribute my efforts and paddle. He quickly stopped me and said: "It's easier when you don't paddle." 

Almost halfway back, we passed another group of kayakers who told us there was a group of manatees hanging out under the Tomoka River Bridge. We quickly paddle over, hoping to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants I've always loved. 

"WATCH OUT," a woman shouted from on top of the bridge. 

Nick and I looked around, and didn't see anything. Then I felt a little bump, followed by a bigger bump and huge splash that nearly sent us overboard.

"They're right under you!" the woman shouted about 20 seconds too late.  

We held our breath and didn't move for a few minutes, waiting for the sea cows the pass under us. Clearly, they were not happy with our visit.

And I, was no longer a fan of manatees. Once something tries to kill me, I tend not to like it. 

After living through two scenes that often go horribly wrong in scary movies, we decided it was time to go back home. Turns out, it's safer inside. 





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