Mating Manatees Stop Traffic on Tampa Bay Causeway

Drivers on the Courtney Campbell Causeway began calling the authorities to report manatees in trouble.  There appeared to be around ten manatees on a sandbar not far from the causeway that connects Tampa and Clearwater, Florida. Drivers stopped their cars and pulled over to get a better look.  Police called the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and their experts said the mammals were not in distress. They were mating.  As the crowd of onlookers grew, police officers cordoned off the waterline with crime scene tape to give the manatees some privacy.  This is not the first time that mating manatees have stopped traffic on the causeway.  In 2004, an estimated 500 onlookers tied up traffic as a group of manatees frolicked just offshore in 2 to 3 feet of water.   Video of the manatees after the break.

Mating manatees cause a stir on Courtney Campbell in Clearwater

Florida manatees are herbivorous marine mammals and a sub-species of the West Indian manatee.  They are endangered as there are fewer than 2,500 mature individuals and their population is declining due to loss of habit and increased boat traffic.  Manatees are part of the biological order Sirenia, as the are often associated with mermaids and the sirens of Greek mythology.


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5 Responses to Mating Manatees Stop Traffic on Tampa Bay Causeway

  1. Diego says:

    Briefly, I just wanted to mention a couple of small nomenclatural spelling errors.

    “Florida manatees are herbivorous marine mammals and a sub-specie…”

    The proper spelling is subspecies, and that goes for both a single subspecies and multiple subspecies.

    “Manatees are part of the biological order Sirenea…”

    The name of the order is spelled Sirenia.

    But that’s a cool bit of news. I have often driven over that causeway but have never had the good fortune to see manatees mating there, although I have seen pods of bottle-nosed dolphin feeding in the shallows and I also know that you can find the fascinating basal chordates, the lancelets (“amphioxus” or Branchiostoma) in those same shallows.

  2. will says:

    great story!! i remember once paddling over hundreds (dozens??) of mating horseshoe crabs . . . gave me a whole new sense of the hs crabs.

  3. Rick Spilman says:


    Thanks for the corrections. Fixed them. When visiting family in St. Pete, we always keep an eye out for dolphin when crossing the causeway. We’ve never seen manatees, mating or otherwise.

  4. Diego says:

    I’m glad that I could be of some small service.

    Now do you mean that you’ve never seen manatee in Old Tampa Bay or that you’ve never seen them at all?

  5. Rick Spilman says:

    I’ve seen manatees in Florida. Blue Springs and Crystal River come to mind. I’ve just never seen manatees from any of the three causeways across Tampa Bay.