At Captain Mike’s Swimming With The Manatees, the most exciting part of your visit will be seeing graceful manatees in their natural habitat. It’s pretty easy to become entranced with their beauty, so there are some things you should know before you go swimming with them.The first thing to keep in mind is that manatees are a lot like people- some will want to be sociable and others will not. This is something to keep in mind while in the water with them. If you see the manatee swimming away from you, do not chase after it.
If you see a manatee swimming toward you, make sure to give it some space. Resist the urge to pet them- there is a very thin line between a stroke and a poke in most animals’ eyes. Do not grab at it or hold on to it. In this regard, it’s different than trying to swim with dolphins.
There are some manatees that will come right up to you and roll over to have their bellies scratched. If you witness this, please keep in mind that this is not the usual behavior and that particular manatee could have been tamed by another diver. Don’t expect all of them to do this!
It’s expected that at first you might be a little overwhelmed at the size of the manatees. This is perfectly normal. However, the calmer you are the more likely it is that the manatees might come near you. It’s best to use the general rule of “the less noise and commotion, the better.” If you have the choice between scuba and snorkeling gear, go for the snorkeling gear. The sound of the scuba gear might scare them away.
There is plenty of vegetation in the area, so there isn’t much reason to try and feed the manatees. Also make sure you do no separate a young manatee from their family, or another individual from the herd. Manatee calves are extremely dependant on their mother up to two years of age. They teach them how to survive on their own, and if you separate the two, the calf could get lost. Passive observation is the best way to respect and preserve manatees and their way of life.
Lastly, there are a few things that you shouldn’t do to manatees. These following acts are against the law: chasing/perusing manatees, disturbing manatees that are feeding, diving onto resting/feeding manatees (this one is also just plain dangerous), cornering them, riding/holding/grabbing/pinching, along with poking or prodding them with anything. This is a great time to practice the golden rule- if you wouldn’t want it done to your body, then do not do it to the manatees.
By following these guidelines, not only will your visit be more fun, but it will also be safe and respectful of everyone involved.