Your new friends are here! Please say hello to our first official friends here at Shapeshifter Fish and Friends: The Pelican, The Manatee and The Dolphin! Just like our first fish, these guys are local to our home environment in Tampa Bay, and can be commonly seen throughout Florida’s vast wildlife habitats. We wanted to feature our friends the Pelican, Manatee and Dolphin in our fall youth line, because there needs to be some education for our young anglers and how to protect or avoid these friends when fishing.
Who is the Pelican?
Pelicans can be found on every continent in the world, except for Antarctica. Pelicans (just like us!) enjoy warm climates and prefer to be near the water. In Florida, our most common species, the Brown Pelican, live year-round in estuaries and coastal marine habitats along our coastal regions but can also be found on the west coast of the United States. They are distinguished by their big gray-brown bodies topped with a tiny white-yellow head, long beaks and a fleshy pouch.
Freddie Fish Fact: Brown pelicans are the smallest of the eight species of pelicans and are the most prevalent in Northwest Florida.
They have a wingspan of about 6-8 feet but only weigh around 11 lbs. Even though they have an awkward gait on land, Brown Pelicans are strong swimmers and great fliers. They fly to and from their fishing grounds in V-formations or lines just above the water’s surface, and closely related to the Peruvian Pelican, who are the only pelican species to perform spectacular head-first dives (or dive bombs) to trap their food. A foraging pelican will spot a fish from the air and dive head-first from as high as 65 feet over the ocean. As it plunges into the water, its throat pouch expands to trap the fish, filling with up to 2.6 gallons of water, and before swallowing their prey they will drain the water from their pouches, making sure no other animal can steal their food!
Pelicans usually forage during the day but have been seen to feed at night during a full moon, and usually feed above estuaries and shallow ocean waters within 12 miles of shore. They mostly eat small fish that form schools near the surface of the water, which include menhaden, mullet, anchovies, herring, and sailfin mollies.
When fishing, always look around and make sure there aren't any birds flying in your cast path! We want to protect these majestic creatures that date back over 30 million years.
Who is the Manatee?
The Florida manatee, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, is a large, slow-moving marine mammal with a long, round body and paddle-shaped flippers and tail. They have a grayish brown body, with thick and wrinkled skin that sometimes has a growth of algae on it. Their front flippers help them steer, or sometimes crawl, through shallow water. Their flat and powerful tails help propel them through the water.
Freddie Fish Fact: Florida manatees can be found as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts during summer months, and during the winter, manatees congregate towards Florida, as they require warm-water habitats to survive.
Like other grazing animals, Florida manatees play an important role in influencing plant growth in the shallow rivers, bays, estuaries, canals and coastal waters they call home. Manatees are herbivores, meaning they feed solely on seagrass, algae and other vegetation in freshwater and estuaries in the southeastern US.
Manatees are naturally curious, and they will sometimes approach your fishing spot. Because of this, we are featuring these gentle giants in our first youth line, to bring awareness, and educate young anglers on what to do, and what not to do if ever encountering a Manatee. Together, we can protect them!
Who is the Dolphin?
When was the first time you ever saw a dolphin? Hopefully you’re lucky enough to see these magnificent creatures in real life! They love to swim with friends just like us and can be seen swimming all over Florida. There are over 40 different species of dolphins with the smallest being 3-4 feet long, and the largest being up to 30 feet!
Freddie Fish Fact: Several dolphin species swim the coasts of Florida, but the most common is the bottle-nosed, mistakenly called porpoises.
The average dolphins seen in Florida are around 6-8 feet long and can live to be about 30 years old. Saltwater dolphins seen in Florida are typically grey, with a lighter underbelly. When in their surroundings, dolphins will use echolocation to locate prey or objects through soundwaves and do not have a sense of smell. Dolphins can be seen eating a variety of fish, squid, shrimps, jellyfish and octopuses.
Why did we decide on these friends for our first launch?
The Pelican, Manatee and Dolphin are always around when we are outdoors, and we wanted to emphasize how much they mean to us, and how they were a vital inspiration for who we wanted to be as a brand. We wanted to incorporate these friends into the beginning of our brand’s journey because they are very prominent in Florida habitats, extremely popular with locals and tourists alike, and we need to educate young anglers that fishing isn't just about the fish! It is our mission to get you outdoors, to learn about biology and marine ecosystems, and to maybe make a friend or two along the way.