Texas Travel

Port Mansfield Manatee

Port Mansfield, just north of Padre Island, has received a rare treat the past few years – a visit from a Florida Manatee!

These gentle creatures normally live in the warm waters of Florida and seldom venture to the Texas Gulf Coast. This Manatee is about 8 feet long and has been in Port Mansfield for about a month, playing and eating sea grasses.

Manatees live to be about 50 yrs and can get as large as 12 feet in length. Boats are the main threat to Manatees because of wounds from propellers. The problem is that there are too many boaters in the coastal waters that Manatee prefer. Loss of habitat, fragile sea grass being destroyed by boaters and water pollution are diminishing their numbers. Manatees are Federally protected and on the Endangered Species list.

US Fish & Wildlife officials will monitor the Manatee. They don’t want people feeding it or coming too close. “Our biggest concern is trying to keep the public from interfering with its movement, when Wildlife becomes dependent upon people, they quit being wild.”

The last Manatee to visit the Texas Coast was “Sweet Pea” who in 1995 made quite a splash at a water treatment plant in Houston. I was able to take my 2 boys to see her and we fondly remember her playing in the water. Sweet Pea had to be rescued when the temperatures got cold. Manatees get hypothermia in water below 68 degrees. “Mattress Mack” of Gallery Furniture volunteered one of his vans to help transport the Manatee to the cargo plane that flew her back to Florida.

Wildlife officers will also keep a close eye on the Port Mansfield Manatee when waters starting getting colder. We sure enjoy their visits but want them to be safe and go back to Florida when the Summer is over.

Texas Travel

Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens

Mercer Arboretum
Mercer Arboretum<br>Bluebonnets

Just north of Houston is the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. Set along the banks of Cypress Creek, the park offers 250 acres of native woodland trails, color gardens, koi ponds and more.

Thelma and Charles Mercer purchased the original 14 acres with dreams of establishing a public garden. They later sold the property to Harris County and more acreage was added to the park.

Upon entering the park you will be greeted by a koi pond and the beautiful color beds surrounding the original home site. There you will always find flowers in bloom throughout the year, with an ever-changing display of annuals and perennials. Further into the park are endangered plants, old fashioned gardens, herb gardens, tropical plantings as well as native wildflowers. Stroll along the pathways to natural plantings under a canopy of trees. Across the road are picnic areas, outdoor classrooms and nature trails.

Mercer is a perfect place to just stop by for a morning stroll or all afternoon nature walk. There are wonderful monthly programs and guided tours.

Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is just a mile north of FM 1960 on 22306 Aldine Westfield Road. Admission is free!

Stop by anytime, something is always blooming!!