Thirty years ago today, May 1st, 1986, I moved to Florida! I was a California gal, born and raised, who lived all over California, the Western US and Hawaii, but something called to me from Florida and I came…! Was it the manatees? I had been fascinated by “sea cows” since I was a very little girl. Manatees and so much more…, I love Florida and it became the place I felt most at home!
This bit of manatee video sums it up to me! Of course there is much more to my thirty-year anniversary in Florida than manatees, but the beautiful, natural, majestic and nonchalant nature of this unique marine mammal says a lot about my quest!
An Adult Male Manatee Exhales With Gusto in the Warm Paradise of Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida. January 2015.
I am looking back on moving here to Florida thirty years ago and the adventures that have transpired! I rediscovered my passion for the ocean by learning to sail right near here in Clearwater Bay. Then I got certified to scuba dive here and now I have over 1,500 dives and many many more hours in the water swimming and snorkeling! I participated in advanced fish surveys with REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation), the National Park Service, NOAA (as a NOAA Scientific Diver) , etc. Through the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which I was a member of, I helped rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles, whales and dolphins at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium – including the inspiring and now famous little Winter the Dolphin who stranded in December 2005. Then I picked up an underwater camera in 2002 and never looked back! It has been an enormous privilege to photograph mesmerizing manatees in Florida and many more sea creatures. In case you haven’t seen this photograph, here is arguably my “biggest” splash in the last thirty years, a 2-1/2 story high photograph at the new Manatee Lagoon, Riviera Beach, Florida.
Lobby at Manatee Lagoon, Riviera Beach, Florida. A Florida Power and Light Eco-Discovery Center and Manatee Wintering Site. My Manatee Photograph is 2-1/2 Stories High! Right by a Cousteau Quote! My Thirty Years in Florida Anniversary! Photograph courtesy David Schrichte who was at the opening on Feb. 5, 2016.
Many other adventures happened here! I met my husband here in Clearwater and then got married on the Ringling Ca’ d’Zan Mansion grounds in Sarasota, Florida (right by the water, yet again…)! In 2010 I achieved my Florida Master Naturalist Certification through University of Florida Extension Services. So many treasured friends have crossed paths with me here, along with wonderful pets, interesting jobs, jazz music and beauty to behold in abundance. I hiked miles and miles with the Florida Trail Association through “The Real Florida” and was then excited to travel the world, Europe for the museums and history and as far as the island of Palau for the amazing scuba diving and more history. I have truly been blessed and want to thank everyone and everything that has made me feel so at home in Florida!
Here’s to at least another thirty years in Florida!?