|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
|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.