Trip Report Crystal River Manatee Snorkel- November 27, 2021

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Redfoot

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Finally got around to editing my GoPro footage from the trip and figured I would post a report.

We visited my in-laws in Sarasota for Thanksgiving this year and finally checked off one of our bucket list items- Snorkel with manatees at Crystal River!

We stayed at the Plantation on Crystal River. Hotel was convenient, but definitely dated.
We only stayed one night, I don't think my in-laws could have lasted another. Their tastes are a little more refined- I thought the place was OK, but they felt it was dirty and uncomfortable. To each their own.

The onsite restaurant was disappointing- we arrived around 3:00 pm and they still had brunch leftovers sitting out, along with dirty linens, dirty plates and food all over the floor. We walked right back out the door.

We ate at Waterfront Social, right across the street, which had excellent food and service.

We booked back-to-back 3 hour private charter for our group of 6 with Adventure Center at Plantation on Crystal River. We ended up with about 7 hours on the boat.



This worked out extremely well for several reasons.

-We boarded the boat at 6:00 am and beat all of the other groups out to the springs, which gave us alone time with the manatees
-We could leave sites as other boats showed up and continually had spots all to ourselves
-We got to tour the entire area, and if we saw manatees, we would stop the boat and ease in

The other, larger tours would pull up and dump out 12-20 guests and they would all be bumping, kicking and fighting each other for views. We did not have to deal with any of that.

This was easily one of the coolest things I have ever done. Manatees are such interesting creatures, and I really felt they enjoyed seeing people as much as we enjoyed seeing them. They are very inquisitive, curious and, well, goofy to watch.

The tour company was very professional, respectful and committed to protecting the manatees. Some of the manatees recognize the guides and go up to them specifically.

We also saw schools of snook, mullet, bass, a stingray, pelicans and several other bird species.

Would definitely recommend this trip to anyone in the area. Great for kids, adults and non-water people alike.

 

Marie13

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Neat video. Friend of mine has a photo with a manatee hugging her legs while she’s floating at the surface!
 
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Redfoot

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Yes, my brother in law is NOT a water person. He was a good sport, but he gets nervous when he can't see/touch the bottom.

One of the smaller manatees linked their flippers to his arms- the guides say they always gravitate towards the nervous people. It could be emotional support, or it could be the faster heartrate produces more body heat- and manatees love some good body heat!

1640727732444.png
 

Gene

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I wonder if you had my cave diving buddy and long time friend Capt. John S. as your tour capt. If you did, you all were in great hands.
 

Johnoly

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..... gave us alone time with the manatees...

Would definitely recommend this trip to anyone in the area.
Wow, the great viz was outstanding....you definitely had the place to yourselves.

I agree, everyone should do a manatee trip atleast once and your video shows exactly why.

Great video!!
 
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Redfoot

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I wonder if you had my cave diving buddy and long time friend Capt. John S. as your tour capt. If you did, you all were in great hands.

We had Capt Laura and First Mate Jake-

Both were great.
 
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Redfoot

Redfoot

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The springs keep the water a consistent 72-74 degrees F year round. The area is tidal, but all freshwater.

We wore 5mm wetsuits, it was cold in the morning outside of the water, but warmed up as the day went on.
 

AfterDark

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Great video!

I've been there a couple of times, never grow tired of it. Homosassa Springs is another manatee wintering area. There was a LDS there that rented boats and filled tanks but that was back in the 90's; don't know if they are still there.
It was there that a manatee became my dive buddy and followed me around while I was solo scuba diving. It stayed with me for about 10 min even after we surfaced at what I thought was my boat but turned out it was a park ranger's boat! The manatee was bobbing on the surface next to me like a dive buddy would! SCUBA use around manatees was/is frowned on there, it's thought it could frighten the manatees. I thought I was in trouble with the ranger for using SCUBA but she told me she had seen the whole thing from her boat, how the manatee dove down to me and swam by my side until we surfaced. She was amazed by the behavior and thanked me for experience! It was one of my more memorable dives! I also spotted 2 huge Tarpon that day just hanging in the water a few feet from the surface. They acted like I wasn't there, sure wished I'd had a camera that day. Glad you did!
 

deeper thoughts

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Very nice. We may be going in a few weeks. If so birds underwater and Best Western
 
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