Imagine being surrounded by a placid sea of blue.

Imagine seeing the sunlight reflecting off that blue sea.Imagine being suspended in time while gazing on one of nature's strangest looking - yet gentle - creatures. This is the sensory imagery found in the book "Man-a-tee."

I've been told that it takes a special person to love a manatee. Well, I guess I'm that person. I can't help submerging myself in their intrigue.

And part of that intrigue has to do with their place in mythical sea lore.

Hundreds of years ago, sailors mistook manatees for mermaids. Manatees were also associated with sirens, those bewitching mythical creatures who lured sailors to their deaths on jagged rocks.

Actually, manatees are very gentle creatures who spend a majority of their day eating. They are voracious herbivores. This and their size are most likely some of the factors that gave them the name "sea cow".

It is hard to imagine these gentle creatures beguiling and luring sailors to their demise. But then, months at sea can play tricks on the senses. Those sailors probably had sunburned retinas.

If one's senses are fullly functional, one will find the photos in "Manatee" a sensory delight. The manatees are photographed engaging in different activities ranging from eating to investigating to playing. The photographs are a feat in themselves because, initially, manatees are shy and wary of humans.

"Manatee" is a book soaked full of color shots. The water's color is a vivid blue; there is no trace of pollution's muddy effects. One of my favorites is a shot that shows the water, sky and beach and, of course, a manatee. The color is clear, and the impression is that one needs to don sunglasses in order to cut the reflection from the water.

The whole book really takes the viewer to the location. Another favorite photo captures a manatee during a moment of curious investigation. The manatee is caught using his flippers to tug on a boat's anchor rope. The book also contains a wide assortment of manatee trivia. For example, it is not common knowledge that manatees are protected by three acts; one being the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

Those sailors must have been crazy to mistake manatees for gorgeous babes (i.e. mermaids), but the photos in "Manatee" are gorgeous enough to lure anyone.