Manatee 2010

Manatee calf looking for attention

Manatee calf looking for attention

Val and I were invited on a trip to Florida, including a Manatee dive in Crystal River. As it worked out, I did have some time off, so we packed our gear and headed down. Val was going to stay a few days, for the Manatee dive, after that, I was planning to stick around for a cavern/cave class.

Packing went smoothly, except for the snowstorm that covered the area the day before the trip. Most of the roads up here were dry with some salt for good measure. On the trip down we stopped over with our friend Grace in Durham. Their roads were not cleared as well, and the drivers were not accustom to snow. It was not a pleasant situation, but with only minor delays we were back on the road the next morning.

We arrived in Crystal River a bit later than expected, but were up and ready for the dive the next morning. Dive gear, camera gear, and all weather gear packed and ready, we headed out.

This was our first time diving with Manatees. The boat rental required us to watch a video concerning the regulations around Manatee interaction. Bottom line, nothing can prepare you for the actual dive! Becky had invited a group of experienced divers. We hit the water expecting to see a few dozen Manatees. I’m not sure if it was the cold weather, or something else, but there were a few hundred Manatees in the area.

We anchored in a small tributary with river water, and spring water running past a Manatee Sanctuary. Within the roped off sanctuary, there were a dozens of resting Manatees. Back in the springs, the sandy bottom was covered with them. We were all snorkeling on the surface looking to see if any were interested in interaction. Many were resting, but others would swim right up to us.

At first, it’s a bit unnerving to have a 1200lb animal swim up to you. These creatures are 5-6 times our size. It makes you think for a second. Then they roll over and want their belly rubbed. Ok, not so intimidating. The juveniles (calf) are more curious than the older adults, but both were curious about us as divers. I’m not sure why, but my camera seemed to draw their interest. Some would swim up and interact. Several would swim up, play for a bit, and then swim away. Many came back again and again.

After I filled up my still cameras memory card, I switched to the video camera. It was both fun and enlightening interacting with these gentile creatures. As usual, they had to drag me from the water, since I was having so much fun.

If you ever get a chance to dive with Manatees, I highly recommend it. Take your time, and let them come to you. They are both fun and engaging.

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4 Responses to “Manatee 2010”

  1. Joan Kagan says:

    I was one of the snorkelers at Crystal River. It was a great day swimming around with the manatees. I look forward to this event every year. Enjoyed reading Dave’s article..

  2. Joan Kagan says:

    As a snorkeler I enjoyed swimming with the manatees at Crystal River. There were manatees everywhere! It rained again just like last year but we were prepared for it just in case. My daughter, Becky from Liquid Productions rented a pontoon boat and off they went taking pictures and video of the manatees. Its a great family event. Schools of kids were enjoying snorkeing and swimming around…It was a great day!

  3. Liza Cozzy says:

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  4. Bradly Olecki says:

    Cool post. Great shots. Thanks!…

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