Enchanting Manatees of Crystal River—Alert Diver Magazine

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Alert Diver Magazine, the high quality dive publication of Divers Alert Network (DAN), has published an article of mine called “Enchanting Manatees of Crystal River”. Here’s a little more about it.

In recent years the manatees of Crystal River have become more and more well-known. So many people have flocked to observe the charismatic sirenians that a number of additional rules and regulations have been put in place to protect these marine mammals during Florida’s winter months. I’ve done my best to succinctly outline how to respectfully see manatees in and around Crystal River. You can read the article online here:

Alert Diver Online—Enchanting Manatees of Crystal River

Or browse through this Flipbook edition of the Spring 2019 Alert Diver Magazine here page 36:

Alert Diver–Flipbook–Spring 2019: Enchanting Manatees of Crystal River – page 36

While Florida’s manatees still face  sobering threats from red and other toxic tides, boat strike injuries and loss of warm-water habitat, it’s encouraging to know the manatee population in Florida is actually substantially larger than previously thought. The data is in this article from the Florida State Fish and Wildlife Conservation agency (FWC):

More Manatees in Florida

While much still needs to be done, along with continuing efforts at protecting these sensitive marine mammals, it’s heartening to know conservation measures are working. The larger population figures can be looked on with guarded optimism.

Would you like to know more about the photographs in the Alert Diver article? Ok! They are all recent and were taken during the last couple of seasons, obeying strict photographic and access rules. All the underwater photographs were composed with natural-light only, in the beautiful freshwater springs. Taken with a Nikon d7200 in a Subal underwater housing, 8″ glass dome port and Tokina 10-17fe lens. The boardwalk photograph was taken with the Nikon d7100 and Nikon 12-24 lens.

I was indeed enchanted! This curious manatee checked out myself, the photographer, on an early-season Fall day over Big Sister Spring.

Manatee calves have differing personalities, individual to individual. Some are shy and some are very gregarious. This boy likes to stretch and play in the Florida sun-warmed springs! From this past February 2019, Three Sisters Springs.

Out front of Three Sisters Springs there are two other sanctuaries set up during peak manatee season. This cold January day saw manatees peacefully resting and staying warm. Clear water and blue skies abound out front while the inner springs are roped off for manatees only on cold days. Idiot’s Delight 2 sanctuary, Crystal River.

It’s referred to as “passive observation” but I’d just call it respecting the manatee’s space. This snorkeler was truly enamored with the engaging female manatee, and I think the manatee was equally intrigued with her. Over Big Sister Spring on a cool February day.

At the end of January 2019 we had a cold spell that drove manatees to Three Sisters Springs. If there’s not enough water in the back springs the manatees gather out front. The Idiot’s Delight 1 sanctuary was one of the first established sanctuaries. It’s often the warmest place in Crystal River and sometimes packed with sea cows for these boardwalk onlookers to observe. The manatees are peacefully resting now but periodically during the colder spells with low water levels, manatees who have not learned manners themselves can panic this whole sanctuary with many mothers and calves. It usually clears up very quickly though, as the manatees return within minutes. Idiot’s Delight 1 sanctuary out front of Three Sisters Springs.

On this World Oceans Day 2019, please remember to help not only our planet’s oceans, but also the springs and other waterways that are home to some of the most fascinating life underwater, including our beloved Florida manatee.

Best, Carol