if anybody reading this has a chance to swim with Manatees, don’t hesitate, it is an amazing experience.
I’ve just returned from a holiday in Florida, and before we went I had arranged a trip to swim with Manatees. I wasn’t disappointed….
Before I left for my hol I had read lots of articles about Manatees and to say I was excited was a massive understatement!
This is my favourite picture which I took with my underwater camera (I am a keen scuba diver so am very comfortable in the water).
Here is my story of how the day unfolded…
We left Orlando for a two hour drive North West to Crystal River, where our tour operator was based.
The company we chose to use for our experience was called ‘River Ventures’ and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough, they were brilliant!
Upon arrival at their offices, River Ventures made us welcome from the first minute. We are told to help ourselves to tea or coffee, and once the rest of our group had arrived we were shown to a small room where we had an introductory talk from a very experienced lady who worked there, then left to watch a short video on how to interact with Manatees.
This was really interesting and informative, as I’m sure most if not all, of the people who visit had never experienced such close encounters with wild animals before.
The video told us what we should and should not do, together with telling us a little about the lifestyle of these amazing creatures.
We were then given wetsuits to put on and driven a short distance to the mouth of the river where our boat and captain awaited.
Our Captain (Donovan) was extremely friendly and helpful, and after a short safety briefing we were in our way.
Naturally, as the Manatees are wild animals and not held in captivity in any way ( are you paying attention SeaWorld?!!) there were no guarantees that we would see any Manatees, but we were told that there was an excellent chance that we would, as the natural springs in the river had a temperature of 72 degrees (Fahrenheit) and Manatees could not survive for long in water below 68.
We were not disappointed….after about ten or fifteen minutes of searching, we pulled into a quiet second of the river and spotted three or four Manateees.
The boat captain gave us a few dos and fonts, and we entered the water.
We were told to keep as still as possible, and the 5 in our group did just that. Also on our boat were a family of 3 people from Kansas, then proceeded to do everything that we had been told not to do!
We swam amongst around 20 Manatees, and they were really tactile, coming over to be stroked and to ‘cuddle’ us!
We were in the water with them for almost two hours, and it was the most humbling experience of my life.
The above photos show a Manatee with Mum, and also..how these guys have fingernails!