Manatee with Snapper-Smithsonian Nature’s Best Photography Exhibit

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Beautiful blue warm spring water, tide recedes, a male manatee stretches, and snapper line up as if for roll call. Does it sound too fanciful to be real? Something ‘Through the Looking Glass’ author Lewis Carroll would have imagined?

The natural world is mysteriously beautiful, and this underwater scene truly did happen, as pictured. A beautiful Florida wild moment in time.

Florida manatee with snapper. People enjoy adding their own take on this.”First Day of School”? “Crossing Guard?” Could be? Only they know for sure 😉.

When manatee stretch and stir near the warm spring outflows, they may kick up invertebrates or other organisms in the sand. Although, I’ve never seen a snapper with one of the numerous tiny freshwater snails in its mouth, so who knows what’s occurring here? It is documented that the snapper value the warm spring outflows nearly as much as the manatees do. On this February day at Big Sister Spring as the tide went out, clear blue spring water was left flowing and the bucolic scene was lit with strong Florida sunlight. Also since there weren’t any strong winds to influence the water levels or cloud cover to muffle the sunlight, the springs looked perfect! It’s not an everyday occurrence to see it this blue, but it does happen. And in whatever iteration, the Three Sisters Springs is always beautiful.

During the cooler months manatees move around the lovely waters of the springs as the water levels rise and fall. They are expert at finding the warmest areas to rest, observe their environment and selectively socialize with other manatees.

Here is a series of photographs, in sequence, of this manatee, his stretches and his unhurried relaxed moves towards a different spring area.

Male manatee is leisurely stretching forwards.

Now to the side. He’s quite graceful!

The snapper seem to be just as relaxed as Mr. Manatee and me!

He’s preparing to leave with the tide. One manatee is still sleeping in the background.

A beautiful, peaceful moment in time. This is the photograph Manatee Lagoon has on their huge wall.

Here’s a rare photo of me above water in front of the previous photograph blown up 2-1/2 stories high on Manatee Lagoon’s wall.

2007 is the last time a manatee was displayed in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards exhibit. John Johnson’s compelling image of an injured female manatee cavorting won the Environmental Issues category.

2007 Nature’s Best – Honolulu Star Bulletin

Of course I’m very proud to be one of the awarded photographers in such a popular and prestigious museum. Although most of all I’m proud to have a manatee displayed there! Action towards helping these gentle marine mammals starts with awareness, and what better awareness than the eyes of the millions of visitors that will see this exhibit through September 2019. It’s especially important to create a spark in our younger generation who will be the manatees’ guardians in the future. The Nature’s Best exhibit is listed as “kid friendly”.

More about the exhibit including Category winners and Highly Honored winners here:

Peer Through the Lens of the World’s Best Nature Photographers – Smithsonian Magazine

And the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s page, hours, etc:

Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards

Next week I’ll post pictures of the exhibit and the awards reception.

Till then, Carol