Saturday, January 24, 2009

Brackish Majesty

These past few months have been quite enlightening for someone who's token statement has been "Fish? You mean the things that get in the way of the wrecks?". From the sharks of Tiger Beach in November, to today in the shallow Floridian waters of Crystal River, one doesn't need to be an activist to quickly learn appreciation for the mysterious beings who reside under the surface.

For years I have swum up spring runs, burdened with immense amounts of gear, in search of a hole in the ground to explore limestone covered in clay, sand and mung. Today however, these spring runs were forged with only snorkel gear; exploring the same scenery, but searching for something much more majestic... manatee.

Never having experienced manatee outside of images, I could not have imagined their size or grace, nor their incredible curiosity and friendliness. They appeared to seek out the gentle diver, those aspiring to join them in their environment rather than merely spectating.

I witnessed their instant curiosity to Amanda's dome port, coming within inches; looking with their left eye, then their right, then straight on again, apparently joyous to finally have a mirror.

Their interaction with Felix? That was virtually indescribable; his breath holding ability allowing them to welcome him as a peer. It was an unimaginable joy to watch as they bumped and nuzzled, rolled on their backs for a good belly scratch; directing his hands where they wanted them to be and holding him in place when they weren't quite done yet... all the while smiling in the sheer pleasure. Smiles that we had no choice but to return in kind!



  1. Awesome! I'm going with Becky on Thursday. Hoping we meet the same friendly guys :-) The photos are superb!

  2. I love my new girlfriends...Amanda, great photos...Jeff, see - you can write short posts after all :)

  3. Thank you for the kind words about the photos!!

    I had such an amazing time watching Felix with his new "lady friends", seeing how inquisitive and friendly the manatees were and witnessing Jeff in a snorkel. It was certainly a day of big events.

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  5. I can imagine how it was: with Jeff's report, Amanda's photography, and Felix - well, I intimately know the way he handles animals...