Manatees, iguanas and crabs-oh my!
We have so many wonderful visitors to Bougainvillea Villa-both the two legged, the four legged and then the definite "wildlife" kind. The manatees are our favorites-and the guests favorites too-but we do occasionally see an iguana, large white herons like to perch on the fish cleaning station and our boat and once we even had a large crab come right up to the outdoor sofa!
One of our neighbors first pointed out a manatee in the lagoon shortly after we bought the house. He told us that if we sprayed water from our dock hose in to the lagoon the manatee would come to the dock looking for a drink of fresh water. This definitely worked! We turned the water on to just a little more than a dribble and put it in the water when the manatee came to our dock and he used his flippers to grasp and stick it in his mouth. It was amazing to see such an incredible animal up close. Another neighbor told us that there are many people who don't think people should "water" the manatees because it might teach them to come up to docks and then be at greater risk of boat prop injuries. I'm not sure that totally applies to our lagoon but if we're washing the boat and they happen by for a drink we're happy to "water" away. Just this past November a manatee came up to the dock on its own to check us out-I think it was just looking around the all the corners of the lagoon. We now know that there are younger, smaller manatees and much larger, older manatees that populate our lagoon. The older ones definitely have lots of scars-which we assume are from boat propellers. Once we had two manatees at our dock at once, trying to share the hose. The tide was exceptionally high, so their backs were floating out of the water almost level with the dock. I was able to reach out and stroke their backs. Amazing! We had a friend dive right in the lagoon and swim around with a manatee right off the dock. The manatee kept its distance but it was a cool experience for our friend! Often we have more than one manatee in the lagoon for several days-the most we've seen at once is four. Do use caution when boating in the lagoon and through out the canals of the neighborhood-the manatees do move around.
A more infrequent visitor to our patio are iguanas of various sizes. They're larger than the small skinks that are all over the place in Key West. I've seen only one really large one and he mostly stayed on my fence rail sunning himself. Our February guests were visited by a large iguana who was hoping for a dip in the pool. As they were in the pool at the time he opted to swim in the lagoon instead. You'll often see them swimming around in the canals in the neighborhood or if you're out kayaking in the mangroves near the Hurricane Hole (you can rent kayaks and paddleboards at Lazy Dogs right at the Hurricane Hole)
Large white herons (or I think that's what they are; I really need to get a bird book to leave at Bougainvillea Villa) visit us quite often. They usually sit on the fence posts, the fish cleaning station or even on our boat in the boat lift. I've also seen them on the dock itself. They'll hang around even if you come outside, so long as you keep your distance.
We found a big crab with a big claw on our patio one June. I'm not sure how he got up there or what he thought he was going to do but he seemed most interested in hiding out undo the outdoor sofa. After some comments about having our own "stone crab" we managed to chase him over to the corner of the patio and eventually he opted for the lagoon. He was the hardest to chase away for some reason! The lagoon is full of smaller crabs and is so clear that you can see the fish and the coral growing on our seawall. Bougainvillea Villa is a great place to check out the local wildlife up close!