The Florida Manatee is a pretty easy going marine mammal. They eat various aquatic vegetation, seek warm water sites in the winter and peaceful shallow waters to raise their calves. With these rather simple demands one would think the manatee has a seemingly bucolic existence.
Doesn’t this manatee look contented while taking a breath? It’s been munching on an area of restored seagrass near the entrance to Three Sisters Spring, Crystal River, Florida. Photograph from November 2020.
Unfortunately a totally carefree existence is not in the cards for our beloved manatees as they face many challenges throughout their range. Florida manatees have been in the news lately Continue reading →
Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach, Florida. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Possibly you have had the wherewithal to explore the site on scuba or while snorkeling? Even manatees use the site as a pass-through and many sea cows winter in the warm-waters of the nearby Florida Power and Light’s Manatee Lagoon. The Bridge is rich with life, large and super small. It has a little of everything!
Blue Heron Bridge has rare creatures amongst its diversity. These pipehorses inspired me to learn to do macro underwater video! Pipehorse photographs taken on June 27 & July 1, 2019. Nikon d850/105vr/SMC/Subal U/W Housing.
Since 2002 I’ve been scuba diving from Phil Foster Park, around and under the Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach, Florida. Underwater photography has been my passion, but recently I wanted to show more of these submerged but fascinating stars of the bridge. Continue reading →
Ever since the first edition in 2006 of The Florida Manatee: Biology and Conservation by Roger L. Reep and Robert K. Bonde, I’ve experienced heartfelt joy every time a manatee question of mine has been fully answered in the interesting pages of this book. Now, a second edition of the book is coming out soon with a tender photograph of a mother manatee with her young calf on the cover.
The photograph was taken by me on the Spring Equinox in 2019. I am so proud to have this photograph on the cover of this new second edition.
I remember every detail about this heartfelt encounter. Would you like to know more about this charismatic manatee mother and approximately two-week-old calf? Continue reading →
I’m taking a fond look back at what a memorable year we had in 2019. Yes, manatees were a big part of it, as always! But we also trekked over 1,000 miles across Florida, making it all the way down to Dry Tortugas National Park at the western tip of the Florida Keys. Here are some highlights:
Mustache, the baby boy manatee with the white mustache—that is a good place to start. Spring Equinox, March 20th, was the first time I saw the adorable little youngster with his mom. I’ve seen baby manatees before, most notably the little one “Angel” confirmed by Dr. Bob Bonde to have probably been born in the springs the night before that early morning Leap Day in 2008. It is interesting comparing the little calves and seeing the differences between a newborn and a manatee calf that is about two weeks old. Both are absolutely adorable!
Little Mr. Mustache the baby manatee with mom. Spring Equinox, March 20, 2019
Now look at some of the differences between the documented newborn, Angel, and the slightly older calf, the one I called Mustache, from March 20, 2019. Continue reading →
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:
2019 is upon us, both ourselves and our close neighbors, the Florida manatees. It’s at this time I’ll look back at a few highlights of 2018 and look forward to new adventures in 2019!
Now 2018 wasn’t all about adorable manatees (although they are certainly unforgettable). My awarded photograph of a manatee and snapper is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. till September 2019. The Nature’s Best Photography exhibition is inspiring, be sure to see it! Continue reading →
What does Christmas have to do with Manatees? In Florida, a lot! By the time the holidays roll around, most of this area’s manatees are sheltering in and around the warm freshwater springs or using various warm water power plant channels to stay warm. With our early cold snaps this season, one is sure to see some manatees jaunting about. Now that’s another special Christmas miracle if you ask me.
Manatees celebrating the festive aspects of the season. Taken on Monday of this week in the canals of Kings Bay, Crystal River, Florida.
Here is our “Holiday Greetings from the Grants” we have been sending out to friends and family for over 25 years. I’ll post it here too: Continue reading →
Henry, the enormous African elephant stood strong and proud while animals from his homeland, and other places far and wide, were projected around the rotunda of the National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C. It was the evening of November 15th, nine days ago and there was a sense of magic in the air!
A Florida manatee was included. My photograph of a Florida manatee and schooling snapper was a Highly Honored winner and will now hang in the Smithsonian for a year!
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 Continue reading →
Fifteen to twenty miles per hour, that’s the approximate burst speed of our Florida manatees. Usually they saunter along up to 5mph, but with that powerful tail they can really turn on the speed. Here’s another in my series of telling stories and data behind recent manatee images.
A manatee’s paddle-like tail is lit with warm sunlight. This manatee is relaxed and slowly sauntering but it can reach speeds up to 20 mph. Image from March 2018, Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida.
In comparison, other ocean friends can move along pretty quickly too. Octopus can exceed 25 mph, Continue reading →
A few days ago I visited one of my favorite places, Three Sisters Springs, part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. It is Refuge Week all across the country. Hurricane Michael passed just four days before my visit. Although Crystal River was spared significant flooding, Refuge Day was canceled. I still wanted to see how the springs fared, so I ventured there to check things out. No manatees were near Three Sisters as it’s still too hot for most manatees to make their way to Three Sisters. Also a cleanup project is ongoing in the canal out front of the springs, so the noise will discourage a manatee approaching the area. The project will soon be complete though, and we should have a cleaner canal.
My visit to Three Sisters Springs for Refuge Week. The blue sky was stunning. Sunday, October 14th.
The Three Sisters boardwalk and property was closed as it still had a little high water from the storm. Three Sisters Springs land access was reopened the following day, October 15th. Continue reading →
A bright, excited and eager face greets you with overwhelming curiosity, wrinkly skin and a messy snout with algae not yet washed off. I’m talking about this adorable baby manatee, but I could be illustrating many other species of cute little ones across our planet!
Baby manatee with a messy snout and fish friend explores his environment in the springs. Recent image. Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida.
This is another in my series telling stories behind my recent images from the past two seasons. Continue reading →
Imagine… A mammal that lives in shallow waters, eats an array of over 60 different marine and freshwater aquatic plants and literally feels its environment with tiny body hairs! And what is up with that cool manatee snout?
That’s what I’m talking about in this recent photo, the manatee’s prehensile snout.
“1: adapted for seizing or grasping especially by wrapping around”