Photo by: Wolfgang Leander, Crystal River, FL (2007)
I finally got the full manatee experience in Crystal River, FL – I had been here two times before to have only seen a hand full of these friendly sea cows with limited interactions. But today was different – today was amazing.
This time I came to Crystal River with Carmen, Amanda, Jeff and Tibu as well as the cold temperatures. As I checked in last night, the hotel manager told me that there were a ton of manatees – I had my doubts and thought that she was just giving her regular speech.
Turns out there were manatees everywhere we looked and the interactions were fantastic – including belly rubs. The tactic was pretty simple, let them approach you, scratch their “flipper pit” area and they will turn over exposing their big bellies for a full body massage – a connection definitely develops.
I would say that the only negative part of the day was to see how tourists behave in the water (clumsy, noisy, clueless, and disrespectful to the environment and manatees) – no wonder they get bitten by sharks ;). It was awful to see how they approached the animals.
The scene for some reason made me think about people that claim to be experts about sharks and have an opinion about one thing or another – but actually do not ever observe or interact with them in their own element…and it made me think about people that can connect with sharks – they can usually also connect with other animals quite easily, and it shows.
On a final note – it was great to spend time with Amanda and Jeff and talk about sharks, photos, diving…they are definitely people that “connect”…looking forward to Amanda’s photos, the ones I saw on her display (small) – look excellent!