Swimming with Florida’s Manatees

February 13, 2014 at 10:54 am (fine art photography, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Wildlife) (, , , , , )

Baby Manatee

Baby Manatee

Swimming with the manatees is one of the peak experiences of my life.  These sweet, gentle creatures come to Florida’s warm springs when their feeding areas in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean are too cold.  They may huddle there for several days during cold snaps, but often travel back and forth to feed and rest.  Since the springs are 72 degrees, they provide the warmth they need to avoid hypothermia.

Manatee in King Spring

Manatee in King Spring

Of course, this migration sparked an amazing tourist migration as well.  Tour boat companies know where the manatees are, and do their best to teach visitors good manatee manners to avoid harassing or disturbing them.  I realize that, as a former U.S. Fish & Wildlife employee, protecting the wildlife is the priority, and there are some who say any human interaction with the manatees is bad.  However, I believe that when you give people an emotional connection to the resource (thanks Freeman Tilden) they are more likely to “take ownership” and want to protect it. Read the rest of this entry »

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