PERDIDO BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — The waters of Palmetto Creek were calm Sunday morning. Forrest Johnson was out working in his yard when he heard something. “I heard some swishing and thought it was probably a dolphin so I’ll go watch.”
What he saw wasn’t a dolphin. “I was like manatees and I started calling everybody.” He counted at least five. “So I stood there a second kind of in awe and wonder and disbelief and belief and then I sprinted to the bedroom and I got Anna Jane up from a deep sleep.”
“I just jumped up and ran out,” she said, and there near the bank, under the pier, in the shallows, Forrest and Anna Jane Joyner along with almost all of the neighbors got to see what most folks don’t. “They seem to be playful. Almost like they’re just kind of frolicking. It was certainly awe-inspiring because they are so big and so rare,” said Joyner.
There were a few sightings last year in Palmetto Creek but nothing like this. “They were rolling right out here by the grass. You would see their bellies and then their tails,” says Johnson.
According to the Manatee Sighting Network at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, the behavior was most likely mating rituals. It was an experience Forrest and Anna Jane won’t soon forget. “Magical for sure.”
The Manatee Sighting network got several reports from locations along Palmetto Creek and Soldier’s creek over the weekend. The network tracks all manatee sightings along the Alabama Gulf Coast and provides free signs warning boaters of the presence of manatee in the area. Boat strikes are one of the leading causes of injury and death to these gentle giants. Manatees migrate from Florida to Alabama during the months of April through October in search of food and breeding grounds. If you spot a manatee you are asked to call the Manatee Sighting Network online or by calling 1-866-493-5803.