Manatee Orgy Stops Traffic in Florida, Again

Recently, what is being described as a “manatee mating ball” stopped traffic on the Courtney Campbell Causeway between Tampa and Clearwater, Florida. Dozens of people abandoned their cars to line the shore to watch manatees having sex. Video after the page break. This wasn’t the first time that manatee sex stopped traffic on the causeway.

Manatee mating herds are infrequent but not that unusual, occurring every three to five years on the Courtney Campbell. In 2012, we posted Mating Manatees Stop Traffic on Tampa Bay Causeway about the last time when a manatee herd mated at just about the same spot. In 2004, another group of mating manatees drew a reported 500 onlookers to the Courtney Campbell.

So, what is happening? Save the Manatee Club has an Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Manatee Mating Herds (but were afraid to ask”) page to explain it all.

Manatees do not form permanent pair bonds like some animal species. During breeding, a single female or cow, will be followed by a group of a dozen or more males or bulls, forming a mating herd. They appear to breed indiscriminately during this time; however, age experience of some males in the herd probably plays a role in breeding success. Although breeding and birth may occur at any time during the year, there appears to be a broad spring-summer calving peak.

When a female manatee goes into estrus, she is soon detected and pursued by numerous male manatees throughout the cycle (perhaps for a duration of up to three weeks). During that time, the female can mate with one or more males in what is known as an estrous or mating herd. That’s why scientists generally don’t know who the father of a calf is.

Many times, we will get phone calls at Save the Manatee Club notifying us that a group of manatees are “playing.” 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.

Manatees mating causes traffic congestion

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