Manatee Dive Trip January 31st

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MRXRAY

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Well about 20 folks from the Pensacola area mainly from the West Florida Dive Club decided to sneak out of the Panhandle and head East about 6 hours to Crystal River for a Manatee Encounter. I have to say that aside from the long drive, it couldn't have been better. We stayed at the Days Inn off Hwy 19 in Crystal River on Friday Night and met bright and early at Watersports right behind the Motel at 7:30 AM to begin our adventure. Our host and tour guide from Watersports was AWESOME and after we watched our brief Manatee "How to" video we were on our way. It was a bit cold in the morning (Around 36*) which had steam just rolling off the water as it was 72*. This was awesome cool to see as well. We headed down some channels to the main river where the sanctuary is and were on site in less than 20-30 minutes. With the often comic instruction on manatee interaction the time passed very quickly! Once on site we all got our wetsuits on and made ready for some snorkeling. It was a bit busy and some of the other tour groups did not behave well, but overall the manatees were very gracious and allowed us full access to there world and most of us had an "Encounter" of one kind or another. I personally had a total of 5 different manatees approach me over the hour or so that we were on site and I had several all to myself. As I sit here typing I find it hard to express just how gentle and docile these magnificent creatures are. They look so happy to see you and just long to be touched and scratched. I almost felt violated by a couple of the cows as they made it more than clear they wanted inside my personal space. I made several attempts to keep my distance from one manatee as it is hard to get a good picture when it has its snout pressed against your mask, but over time I gave in and allowed him to rub himself against me.......It was an awesome encounter X 5! I walked away with a huge respect for the need to educate the community about the struggle of these magnificent animals. It sounds in talking with the charter captain that the rules for manatee encounters may change and make it illegal to interact with these animals in the future......Someone should tell the manatees, as it was them who instigated the interaction. If you haven't been, don't put it off! It's well worth the time and money! After we finished the manatee snorkel they provided us with some hot cocoa and sandwiches and we headed back to do the rainbow river drift dive. This was also awesome, but the manatees were my favorite.
 

MRXRAY

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Here are some pics....More to follow!!!

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MRXRAY

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Here is a fun, "Fly Through" video of the Rainbow river:

 

UnderWater Angler

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I'll say it again..AWESOME pics Barry.....I would like to have some of those pictures on a CD and a DVD for the shop would be good!

UWA
 

MRXRAY

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I'll bring some DVD's to the Dive club meeting which is Tuesday at 6:30 at the Quality Inn in Gulf Breeze!
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/peregrine/

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