#287: Swim with Manatees

manatee swimming

manatee swimming

LOCATION: River Ventures. Crystal River, FL

This post is part of my Orlando Birthday Trip Series.

My dad is an avid scuba diver and once told me a story about a manatee coming up to him while diving and wanted to get his belly scratched. Ever since that story, I’ve always wanted to swim with a manatee and see how much of a gentle giant they really were.

Crystal River is a set of natural springs in Florida that keeps a constant 72 degrees year round. The area is known for being a huge habitat for manatees because they need warmer water to survive. The best time to see a bunch of manatees is during the winter months, but we were still able to spot some in October.

Troy and I about to snorkel

Troy and I about to snorkel

Heading to the snorkel site

Heading to the snorkel site

The water was murky hard to see, but our group of 10 came across our first manatee. The rule was to hover never to them so we didn’t scare them. Up close, they really lived up to their gentle giant name. They were huge, but very laid back and enjoyed our company as long as we didn’t make huge splashing motions. They would much on the seaweed at the bottom of the sand. Under water, you could hear the chomping sound as they moved through the food. It was very interesting to see and hear. However, with the murky water and 9 other people to fight with to get up close, the adventure didn’t prove very well for pictures. I tried to take videos though, but even those weren’t the best.

manatee swimming

manatee swimming

manatee swimming

manatee swimming

manatee swimming

manatee swimming

We came across 4 manatees in all. The last one was a baby and he was extremely playful. He would twist and turn and bring his face right up to yours. Seeing the baby really ended the trip on a great note.

Baby Manatee Video

Momma Manatee Video

* Thank you Troy for accompanying me on this adventure.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?: I would! I would like to go during the winter months. I’ve decided that the ideal trip would be to drive to FL with the paddleboards and snorkel gear and paddle out on my own and snorkel with them as I went.

HOW TO DO THIS:

River Ventures offers 3 hour tours twice daily. They provide all the gear and it is $45 for the snorkel trip. http://www.riverventures.com/

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