These new manatee protection signs are popping up all around Crystal River, Florida. While signs to watch for manatees and a limited number of educational kiosks have been placed in coastal areas throughout Florida, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has raised the bar with these excellent signs!
There are three manatee photographs of mine represented along with two from my friend, photographer and marine biologist Dr. Alex Mustard.
Wayne Lynch supplied the top manatee photograph on the left panel with two more of my manatee images cropped small below. They represent manatees resting at the surface and mid-water column.
Were my three manatee photographs all taken on the same day and near the same spring with similar blue water? It may appear so, but they are from two separate springs and were taken at different times of the day in different years! Fortunately, lovely blue spring water is not relegated to one spring at one time of the year. It can be found readily throughout the winter manatee season and is an element I seek out to portray in my photographs. I love pure blue spring water! While the water color fluctuates at Three Sisters Springs with weather and tidal changes, it is always a magical place regardless of the water color.
Here are my three original photographs from the sign with dates and information:
On January 13, 2010, many manatees gather near a warm-water spring vent at Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida. There was a record cold front and all these manatees gathered to stay warm in the afternoon. You can see two large spring heads to the right. This is the photograph at the top of the middle panel of the triptych protection signs.
The same day as the photograph above, January 13, 2010, turning to the left I photographed this perspective of additional manatees coming in to stay warm. This hovering manatee is resting mid-water column. What fantastic buoyancy they have! This photograph is included as a square crop on the left protection sign panel, illustrating mid-water manatee resting behavior.
On the morning of February 27, 2009, I photographed this large male manatee hovering over the middle and largest spring at Three Sisters Springs. His propeller scar patterns were reflected on the calm surface, making this a poignant reminder of the need to create safe zones for these endangered marine mammals. This was on the left panel of the sign, cropped square, depicting surface resting behavior.
Well done to US Fish and Wildlife for such striking and educational signs all around the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge! The information should really help make a difference for the manatees. I am proud to be included in such a worthwhile project!