Snorkel with the Manatees - Another Wonderful (Dive) Trip

The Scuba Adventures of John and Joan

From our motel in Orlando, we drove to the Crystal River area to play with the Manatees before we drove to Port Canavral to take our boat over to our diving in Freeport, Bahamas.

Sitting in the airport in snowy Ottawa, we were all smiles
as the planes were all on time. :-)
We headed south at 600 mph. Oh, how we love March break!
In a few minutes, Watertown, NY was below us.
The next time we looked out the window,
the snow was gone.
My internet research showed the boats leaving Crystal River docks
at 6:15 am, which meant we had to leave Orlando at 3:45 am!
It's a two hour drive from Orlando to Crystal River.

We drove quickly, to arrive in time.
It's simple. The boats leave the docks, and in 20 minutes or so, bingo, there they are! I had been apprehensive that in March, there might not be any to see. but apparently the boats find at least a dozen or so, 99% of the time. Throughout the winter, there are hundreds enjoying the warm spring-fed waters of the Crystal River, and as summer approaches they migrate out to sea as the ocean water warms.
These gentle giants seem to enjoy the attention, and we were told
they like to be scratched on their bellies, just like a dog!
Indeed, they would swim up to you...
Actually, right up to you...
Like, really right up to you...
And bring a buddy, and try and sneak a few kisses!
They are pretty affectionate.
So now I have a new buddy, and my dog is really,
really, jealous. I wonder how I can get this guy home?
He really seems to like me! :-)
My wife got to know this guy, and he was so happy
to have some visitors, he started to cry!
She also discovered that if you tickled him
under the arm, he would start laughing...
...then roll over onto his belly for a good
scratch! Just like my dog!!
In short, these guys are awesome! Every diver
should go out of their way to visit these beautiful
It's easy to find the parallel scars on the backs
of many of them. These wounds occur when a careless boater
doesn't see one, and the prop blades do a lot of damage.
Power boats and loss of habitat are the biggest threat
to manatees.
We swam down one of the fresh water springs
and watched some of the manatees graze on the aquatic
It was truly an unforgettable experience!

My wife and I had 2/3 mm wetsuits on, and by the time
I got back on the boat, (after an hour in the water)
I had a solid case of stage 2 hypothermia! I was past the
mumbles, and well into the fumbles! Trying to hold my cup
of hot chocolate, my hands shook so much, half of the
liquid just splashed out! I really had to work at
controlling myself, so I didn't give way to the stumbles!

It was a gray, somewhat drizzly day in March, and
the air and the water were pretty cool. Heck, it
just made the experience more memorable.
This is a link to the company we used for our manatee experience.

Comments or Questions about our Manatee experience? Drop us a line... email John and Joan

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