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When the winter wind blows, manatees seek shelter in warm-water sanctuaries like King's Bay. These slow-moving marine mammals look huge, but don't worry, they are among the gentlest members of the animal kingdom. After decades of human contact, the harmless vegetarians have grown accustomed to people. But before you swim with the sirenians, learn a few things about their behavior. Manatees spend most of their time eating, sleeping and moving from one patch of weeds to the next. Like people, they have personalities. Some like humans, others don't. Be aware of this. If a manatee swims away, don't chase it. Use snorkel gear. Leave your scuba tanks at home, because air bubbles frighten manatees. If possible, wear a wet suit. You'll be more comfortable, hence more patient. You are more likely to have a pleasant encounter with a manatee if you don't rush it.
Give the manatee some space. If one does approach and you feel the urge to pet it, do so with an open hand. Don't grab it or hold it. Don't feed the manatees. There is plenty of hydrilla and other vegetation to satisfy their hunger. Don't separate a calf from its mother, or an individual from the herd.
Several dive shops in the Crystal River area offer organized manatee viewing trips. You can swim with the manatees on your own, but a guide is helpful if you are new to the area or uncomfortable in the water.
Get Wet with the Dolphins!
Swim With Dolphins
If you want an even more in-depth experience, sign up to become a trainer for a day, shadowing real trainers, feeding the animals, and even joining in the Dolphin Show; (850) 234-5271. Marineland of Florida, south of St. Augustine, also offers Dolphin Encounters; (904) 460-1275 or 1-888-279-9194.
One of the most popular dolphin experiences waits at Discovery Cove, adjacent to SeaWorld Adventure Park Orlando. Before entering the water, you learn the hand signals that urge the 300- to 650-pound mammals to jump, chase a rubber toy, and wave a flipper. Reserve a spot in the new "Trainer for a Day" program, and you can work alongside animal experts and interact with dolphins and other creatures; toll free 1-877-434-7268 or www.discoverycove.com.
Snorkel & Dive with Manatees & Dolphins!
Crystal River Watersports
Sunshine River Tours
American Professional Diving Center
If Scuba Diving is your favorite, Crystal River Manatee Tour & Dive offers a variety of dive trips for the beginner to the most seasoned diver! From scuba diving the numerous 72-degree flowing springs in the Crystal River headwaters to offshore dives in the tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico Nature Coast, we offer it all! To those of you that desire the feel of catching the "Big" one, whether by hook & line or spear fishing (offshore), we offer deep sea, inshore, and bay trips.
Days Inn Hotel & Crystal River Watersports
Accommodations in Crystal River on the water. 112 rooms, swimming pool, Manatee tours on site, snorkel & scuba dive, Charter Fishing, Boat rentals, kayak rentals. Scalloping tours in season.
Cap'n Mike's Manatee Tours
Life is an adventure. Don't miss this one. Swim with the Manatees in the pristine, clear waters of the Crystal River on the Nature Coast of Florida. This area, along with Homosassa, is home to the largest concentration of manatees in the world. It is not necessary to be an experienced diver to enjoy swimming with the manatees.
Experience the magic of the Key West wild bottled-nosed dolphins!
Florida Dolphin Tours
Swim with the Dolphins in an Up front and personal dolphin experience. A One on One Swim with curious Bottle Nose dolphins. In this swim, contact is guaranteed with the dolphins. It is not a snorkeling program, and participants should be good swimmers and comfortable in deep water over their heads.
A wild dolphin watching ecology tour and swimming snorkeling trip to Key West Florida's beautiful shallow water back country and Gulf of Mexico coral reefs. Watch Key West Florida's resident pod of wild Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphins in their natural habitat on your tour aboard the CORAL REEFER, a fast twin engine 28' custom built boat.
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