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85Landing a big game fi sh has to be one of the most exciting things that most people will ever do, but if you've ever taken someone fi shing for the fi rst time and watched the delight on their face when they succeed in landing a six inch snapper, then you realize that the old saying is true... size doesn't always matter! Captain Jim Ponder of Anglers Charters specializes in fun family fi shing. If it's trophy fi sh you want, then he'll be happy to oblige, but he says the major-ity of his customers just want to enjoy being out on the water and experience the thrill of catching a fi sh, whatever its size. And don't worry that a whole day of fi shing might be too much for all the family, Capt. Jim can always mix things up and fi nd a desserted beach for some shelling, follow a group of dolphin for a while or maybe stop off at a waterside restaurant for some lunch. His spacious and stable deck boat is perfect for navigating the shallow back-waters around Marco and is also comfortable in the near shore gulf waters. It's ideal for those who are less mobile, and can even accommodate a wheelchair.ON THE WATER

There are many endangered, listed or threatened species living on or around Marco, but none more unusual than the West Indian Manatee. Summer is a great time to see these gentle giants, also known as sea cows, who, evidence shows, adapted to our shallow salt and freshwater environment some 26 million years ago. "I can grow to that size on plants, mommy?"The manatee is an herbivore, eating 60 different plant species including mangrove leaves, turtle grass and freshwater reeds. Due to its diet of low nutritional value plants, an adult has to eat large quantities, approaching 10-15% of its body weight each day. Because it consumes a lot of sand together with these plants, its front teeth are continually worn down and are replaced from back to front throughout its life. The manatee is one of only a few mammal species on earth that has this adaptation. Despite their size, manatees have very little body fat and although they spend most of their life in saltwater, manatees do not drink it. However, they can go up to 2 weeks without freshwater due to their plant diet.A footprint made by a paddleWHERE TO SEE THEMCertainty of sightings...See Manatees Guaranteed - 239.642.8818, Port of the IslandsDouble R's Fishing & Tours - 239.642.9779, Port of the IslandsGood chance...any wildlife/eco tourIf you're lucky...many Marco canalsYou will most likely encounter manatees in the canals around Marco where they swim at about 3 to 5 mph. They can achieve short bursts of speed closer to 19mph, although no-one knows why they need to since they are almost never taken by sharks or alligators due to their enormous size, and they don't need to get home before dark! The most common view of a manatee in our local waters is either its nostrils as it surfaces to breathe or its paddle-like tail as it submerges again. When resting, they can stay submerged for up to 20 minutes but when using a great deal of energy, they may surface to breathe as often as every 30 seconds. If you feel you have seen the telltale sign of a manatee (known as its foot-print), continue to watch and it will likely sur-face again. By the way, if you spot somethng in the wa-ter and you're not sure if it's a Manatee or a Man in a Tee... you'll know it's a Man in a Tee if a) there's hair on his head but no whiskers on his chin, b) his eyes are close together and c) it says "I love Marco" on his Tee shirt!QUICK MANATEE FACTS.... On the endangered list, both State and Federal,. Can grow up to 13ft in length,. Can weigh up to 1300lbs,. Babies at birth weigh in at over 66lbs (ouch!),. Breed once every two to five years and gestation period lasts 12 months,. Cannot survive in water below 60 degrees, . Can live up to 60 years in wild under the right conditions,. The last synoptic aerial survey of manatees on January 20-24, 2011 revealed just 4834 creatures,. Satellite tagging has shown one manatee travelling as far north as Rhode Island (and back!) and others covering distances of 150 miles on the Atlantic coast of Florida in 4 days.86