Dam Treat

We were studying the way rivers flow, and trying to understand how hard it is for a boat to travel up waterfalls and portions of the river with steep drops.

One solution is to use a system of locks and dams.  Well, we have a lock and dam near us - the Franklin Lock and Dam - so a field trip was clearly in order (a field trip is always a good idea).

Appropriate field trip wear:

what, he looks like a tourist?
First stop, the newly renovated visitor center.

I'm not sure when this was renovated, perhaps a year or so ago? To be honest, we'd never been in the visitor center. I had never even noticed the building before. I'm so glad we popped in, what a treasure. The displays and activities were fantastic. The displays provided information about the dam, lock, local waterways, and local environment.

The kids really liked the demo lock system. The real lock is only open once every two hours, so this was their chance to see how it worked.

At the viewing platform is a video with information about the locks, how they function, how hurricanes are handled, etc.

The viewing platform provides a great view of the water in the lock chamber. This water stays pretty warm and is therefore usually home to a few gators and lots of fish. We were told that last year they had to get a permit and a gator trapper to remove a 600 lb. gator, so we were all eyes looking for those reptiles.

We saw fish, lots of fish, and used a guide from the visitors center to determine what type they were.

And we looked and looked, but didn't see any gators.

And then all of a sudden we saw this:

A beautiful manatee. Swimming along happily, loving that nice warm water.

He hung out near us for a bit and then moved further down in the lock. Way better than gators.

While his snout and body are up in the pictures he did spend most of his time underwater. They come up, grab a breath of air, and then head back underwater, and stay under for a long time.

His body seems to be scar free, so I'd guess his lock chamber home suits him well.

Truly, a beautiful sight.

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