Manatee Selfies

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Selfies…, well we used to call them self-portraits, but now it seems they have taken on a viral life of their own! Those who know me realize I’m always very focused on making the most of my time photographing manatees in Florida’s striking springs. I know I’m a bit light on photographs of myself as it’s not an area I put much attention on. Mainly I want compelling photographs of Florida manatees, the lovely springs, and polite passive observation of our Sirenian friends. Therefore, I often forget that some people would like to see pictures of me in the springs.

Periodically I do get requests, usually from magazines, for a photograph of myself underwater with a manatee. I didn’t have much in my archives, so I took up the new challenge! These three “selfies” are just the beginning of what turned out to be numerous photos from this day, the tip of the iceberg so to speak. I donned a more flattering mask than my usual black non-photogenic one I always wear. Then I really hoped there would be an interested manatee who wanted to be in the frame with me. It turned out I got much much more than I bargained for!ūüėÄ 

Manatees are curious about what Carol was up to? My vision was to include as much of the beauty of the springs, the striking light, lovely blue sky and engaging manatees in my self-portraits. I wanted to show what it is like to be underwater and photograph these unique marine mammals. February 2017.manatees,selfie,Carol Grant,springs,underwater

Since I’ve got several manatee projects on-going, I’ll include just three photographs from this experiment. The self-portrait showcase will continue after I get caught up. Continue reading

Manatee Advice for the New Year

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Happy New Year! May 2017 be filled with happiness while¬†flourishing and prospering!ūüéČ

Manatees know a thing or two about New Years, prosperity and all! In fact I put together this video chronicling some wise manatee advice for the upcoming year, 2017. This is all manatee footage¬†from my recent sojourns to the springs in December 2016, so the sage wisdom is current and up-to-date! Here’s the “Happy New Year’s Advice from the Manatees” on Vimeo:

2016 was chocked-full of¬†exciting events for us! There’s too much to summarize in this post,¬†so¬†here’s our “Holiday Greetings from the Grants 2016”

Holiday Greeting From The Grants 2016

Last, there is definitely a bit of¬†“Auld Lang Syne”. Continue reading

Three Sisters Springs: First Day Open After Restoration

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Those of us who treasure Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, Florida, were excited to see the springs re-open on November 15, 2016. It has been 7-1/2 months of construction by the Southwest Florida Water Management District and their contractors. Three Sisters Springs has been closed to the public and manatees the whole summer. Here are some of the pictures I took and observations during my first manatee day this season in the springs.

My First Manatee in Three Sisters Springs Right After it Opened After 7 Months of Shoreline Restoration! Because of Our Enormous Super Moon Tides, Wind and Other Factors, Visibility Wasn’t the Best, But These are Some of My Better Photos from November 15th.  ***(Note: because my computer is in for repair I downloaded these RAW photographs and edited these exclusively on my iPad. It was a very interesting learning experience, although I miss the color accuracy of my calibrated monitor, it’s a good on-the-go workflow).

Mixed feelings, that is what I have after spending three hours underwater back in Three Sisters Springs on opening day, November 15th. Continue reading

Baby Manatees Are Too Cute!

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Baby animals have a particular penchant for being very cute! Little manatee calves rank right up there with the absolutely most adorable junior creatures I’ve encountered! I’d go out on a limb and say they are the “cutest” but I don’t want to upset any other animal moms, especially the mother humpback whales who I witnessed underwater showing off their own offspring a few years ago!

Since I upgraded my underwater camera outfit a couple of years ago to the Nikon d7200 I’ve been able to take some nice HD video and my catalog of clips of adorable young manatees is growing. I still have it housed in a trusty Subal underwater housing and their glass dome port works well for video also. ¬†Before this camera¬†that produces video¬†I used a GoPro mounted on top of my setup and captured some incredible moments also, although not quite at the quality of my Nikon. Still, my video vaults are bursting at the seams with cute little manatee antics and I want to share them with you.

Here is the first in a series of manatee¬†compilation videos. I will keep them¬†under 60 seconds so I can post¬†on Instagram, etc. Possibly I’ll put together a longer one if anyone can’t get enough of the pudgy little manateesūüėá. ¬† ¬† Best, Carol

Manatees Are Just Too Cute! On Vimeo:

 

Manatee Lagoon and Blue Heron Bridge

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Two and a half stories high…, Wow! That’s a BIG manatee photo! And it’s my underwater photograph! I’ll admit it’s been a bit daunting to see it in person, finally, and I’ll honestly say it’s really impressive, lovely and makes a bold statement!

That’s My BIG Manatee Photograph Along With Gray Snapper Swimming On The Wall At Manatee Lagoon! The Cousteau Quote Gladdens My Heart!Manatee Lagoon,manatee wall photo,Carol Grant

A few weeks ago I took off on a last-minute journey across Florida to visit Manatee Lagoon, see my enormous manatee photo on their wall and scuba dive at Blue Heron Bridge. Continue reading

My Florida Anniversary

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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! Continue reading

Cavorting Manatees In Clearwater Harbor Marina

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Many folks were spending a sunny Saturday, the 9th of April, perusing delicacies at the Pierce Street Market, harbor front Clearwater Bay. Some very fit participants were even practicing for the Iron Girl Clearwater Competition the following day. But little did these land dwellers know, something rather dramatic was brewing in the waters just yards away!

Florida manatees happened to have their own frisky agenda this fine spring day. Now it’s not unheard of to spy manatees around and about Clearwater Bay. Although, a group of twelve or more manatees together in shallow nearshore waters is unusual and sure got my attention! Since images speak so much more eloquently than I possibly can, here’s a minute of video to give you the flavor of this rare event:

Manatees Cavorting in Clearwater Harbor Marina. About 6:15pm, Saturday April 9, 2016. A Rare Event Right in Front of Coachman Park.

What just happened here? Continue reading

January Manatees Times Seven

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Hello! I’ve been busy observing manatees this unique January 2016! I say unique because it’s sometimes been sunny and mild, other times very cold and extremely windy. That is a peak time for manatees to seek refuge! After a very warm December, January has turned out to be rather cold and the weather quite volatile. Despite any obstacles I have been in the water to chronicle the lives of our beloved sirenians ‚Äď as I do every January, although this January it is harder to encounter decent underwater photographic conditions. In these seven examples I have succeeded in different aspects of photographing¬†what I’m interested in and trying new things. There is a “Challenge on Nature Photography” going on right now across Facebook. Usually folks nominate a new person each day. I was nominated, so instead of posting new images for seven days on Facebook, I’m putting seven here and linking to #challengeonnaturephotography.

Without further ado ‚Äď here’s seven examples of what me and the manatees have been up to this month:

#1 РMother and Calf Display Affection and Bask In Sun Rays. Wed. January 20th.Manatee_mom_calf_20Jan-2609

Due to cold weather and large numbers of manatees, Three Sisters Springs has been closed sometimes, but open others. Continue reading

Benson At Three Sisters Springs

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Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, is a gem amongst Florida’s lovely natural springs. If you have followed the news lately surrounding the springs, some more restrictions reducing the number of in-water visitors are going to be implemented. Although remember, the nice boardwalk will continue to be open for above water viewing. I just pray the natural, magical beauty that is the essence of Florida’s jeweled freshwater springs, remains intact. Luckily, manatees can still be viewed from kayaks and in-water at a number of other spring sites around King’s Bay, including just out front of Three Sisters Springs.

Reminiscing on all the magical times I and my friends have had at Three Sisters Springs, this memory of my friend Meredith and her dog Benson, is one of the happiest and most poignant.

Benson & Meredith Wishing Me a Happy Birthday at Three Sisters Spring: Feb. 11, 2015

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Polite and Sexy Manatee Buzz

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People.com recently posted “The Sexiest Manatees Alive”. You couple that with some great new manatee viewing data, along with my photographs on the VisitCitrus.com site, and a post is in order! I know I said my next post would be about recently arrived manatees, but while I consult with researchers about an unusual behavior I witnessed, here’s some fun manatee buzz!

People.com “Sexiest Manatees Alive!” iPhone Screenshot. Photo by Carol Grant

My manatee photo, sexy manatee, People.com, Carol Grant

Honestly, let’s give “Little Boy Blue Manatee” a break here. He was a documented orphan I photographed nursing off at least two different females in 2010! Due to his rotund appearance it was concluded¬†he was adopted and doing great. He’s a boy…, he didn’t stick it out…, he just has a lot down there… and he’s proud of it! Who knew People.com would notice for their “sexy manatee” post? Here’s the actual photograph:

Little Boy Blue Manatee Floats Over A Warm Spring in January 2010

Manatees,Three Sisters Springs, Florida

Visit Citrus has also put together an updated website showcasing how to politely observe manatees. Many of my photographs are used.  Continue reading

Just Add Manatees

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Right now, as I am writing this, there are manatees moving into the freshwater spring areas around Crystal River, Florida. Yea! Their arrival is a gradual process though, so I thought you might like to see what Three Sisters Springs looks like right before the manatees arrive for the winter season.

October 24, 2014 ‚Äď No Manatees Yet Enjoying The Three Spring Vents

Three Sisters Springs, no manatees yet,

March 27, 2014 ‚Äď Note The Same Three Spring Vents In March!

Manatees, Three Sisters Springs, mom and baby, peaceful

The green lyngbya algae blankets areas invasively all around Crystal River. Even the lovely Three Sisters Springs is not immune. Note the difference at the end of the season in late March. Where did the lyngbya go?  Continue reading

Manatee Guides Trailer Wrap

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Manatees all over a huge trailer? You can thank Tim Martell of Manatee Guides for the concept of using three of my large-format photographs. I think this comes under the heading of ‚ÄúOnly In¬†Florida‚ÄĚ. Here is what I‚Äôm talking about and I understand it has become quite the conversation piece in and around Ft. Myers, Florida. Trailer photos are courtesy Manatee Guides.

Manatees, Manatee Guides, trailer wrap, kayaks, left side,

Manatees, Manatee Guides, trailer wrap, kayaks,

Late in 2012, Tim contacted me with the idea of wrapping his kayak trailer in three of my manatee photographs with inserts of topside pictures he took during his tours. I was very impressed with the design company’s mock-up and we worked it out for me to license him three of my manatee images to use. These are the original photographs he chose: Continue reading

Something’s Fishy In The Springs

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Manatees gather together in the wintertime at various warm water sites around Florida. Some of these manatees frequent natural freshwater springs. Fish also enjoy congregating near the outflows of spring water. It is here that manatees and a number of fish species share the same watery real estate until the weather warms and manatees spread out again. While together in the springs fish often surround manatees as illustrated in this photograph:

Fish Gather Around A Manatee In The SpringsFlorida manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, endangered. A manatee floats near a warm blue spring and submerged tree roots surrounded by fish, bream, Lepomis spp. and a mangrove snapper, Lutjanus griseus. The manatee is tolerating the bream fish attention as it is the price to pay for sharing the warm waters. Bream target dermis and dead skin on the manatee. Vertical orientation with blue water and light rays. Undisturbed, natural behavior. Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Kings Bay, Crystal River, Citrus County, Florida USA. (Carol Grant)

Interaction between fish and manatees is an interesting behavior to observe. In fact some fish, particularly bream also known as sunfish (Lepomis spp.) and sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) are known to continually surround and peck at the manatee’s skin especially while they are resting. Note the bream below are nipping this manatee:

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Manatees: Hope Springs Eternal

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November is Manatee Awareness Month in Florida. For over 30 years proclamations have been officially made to help protect this endangered marine mammal and Florida treasure.

This November is different though, as a sense of foreboding blankets the future of the sirenians here in Florida. This year, 2013 has seen the highest mortality of manatees since record keeping began =¬†766 manatee deaths as of October 25, 2013 and 769 currently¬†according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission records. Of these,¬†276 manatees died¬†where red tide was prevalent in southwest Florida. Additionally,¬†in this Florida Fish and Wildlife preliminary report¬†an unusually high number of ‚ÄúUndetermined‚ÄĚ manatee deaths were reported near the Indian River Lagoon on Florida‚Äôs east coast. It is thought to be part of a serious toxic imbalance along with a significant loss of seagrass beds, part of the manatee‚Äôs main food source.

Manatees: Hope Springs EternalFlorida manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, endangered. A series of manatees gathering near the warm springs during the bitter cold period of early January 2010. Two skinny adult manatees rest as one takes a breath in the warm shallow blue spring water lit by strong warming sun rays. Another manatee forages in the background surrounded by fish, bream, Lepomis spp. Manatees need these natural warm springs to survive cold weather, like today. Horizontal orientation with blue water and strong warming sun rays with reflection. Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Kings Bay, Crystal River, Citrus County, Florida USA. (Carol Grant)

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