Birthday Manatees 2019

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There’s several things that make experiencing another trip around the sun happy and more palatable. For myself, one of those things is being underwater in the manatee’s world. It has become a tradition for me to express my appreciation to the manatees, through photographs, on my birthday.

Monday, February 11th, was very warm but manatees still showed up and the water was gorgeous!

This young manatee lazily poked around Three Sisters Springs and then moved on to other warm waters. When the water temperatures rise in the Kings Bay area of Crystal River manatees can spread out to find food, socialize and explore areas to find their preferred snoozing spots. The manatees I observed on my birthday were doing exactly that. If there are warmer spots to be found, then springs like Three Sisters become temporary exploring and resting places for just a few manatees, but most others are spreading out around the bay.

I find manatees aesthetic, especially when lit with warm Florida sunlight. This large female seemed to be leisurely enjoying her “alone time”. She hardly noticed me at all. Three Sisters Springs, Feb. 11, 2019.

Light changes throughout the day as does the water color due to the mix of flowing spring heads versus other water entering. Springs are influenced by tides and weather. When I was there this day produced extremely clear water with stunning light effects from the sun filtered through trees. Some days may not have as many manatees, but they make up for it with arresting beauty.

Another manatee enjoying the Florida sun as it quickly warms the spring water. Monday, Feb. 11th.

Plus, I can’t resist adding a photo from three days before my birthday. Sort of a “pre-birthday” celebration. A curious and extremely well-fed manatee calf came over to see what I was doing with that camera. His mom was resting in Pretty Sister Spring, probably glad to have her calf burning off some energy. I’ve heard the milk manatee mothers produce referred to as “Red Bull for calves”. It’s that rich and packed with nutrients.

A “pre-birthday” celebration three days before is attended by a curious male manatee calf. Look how healthy and FAT he has become off mother’s milk! Female manatees are very attentive moms! Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

Last year I picked a photograph I’ve taken to represent each of my regular birthday sojourns to experience the manatee’s watery world since 2011. Of course I went on my birthdays before 2011, but since overcoming breast cancer in 2010, it’s become more of a mission to validate my own survival and that of the manatees.

Here’s the collage I made in 2018 of various manatees (and other friends) I’ve celebrated my birthdays with.

I guess I’ll have to add another picture to the collage for 2019. Which will it be?

On your own birthday, I encourage everyone to treasure that day as your day! Celebrate life and do what it most dear to your own heart. Look at all the beauty that surrounds us!

View from underwater looking up at blue sky, sun, clouds and waving Spanish moss on the palm tree. It doesn’t get much more “Florida” than that! Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.

For now, I will leave you with this image, from the manatee’s point of view.

Best, Carol