Practice Manatee Manners

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Swimming with the manatees and exploring the beautiful Kings Bay estuary and springs is a favorite Florida outing. At Captain Mike’s Swimming With the Manatees, we welcome both beginner and experienced divers and provide the necessary instruction and guidance for a day immersed in the beauty of Florida’s natural springs. A manatee tour is neither difficult nor intimidating, and even seniors and children as young as 10 years can enjoy a wonderful time in the water with the animals. All who get in the water can experience the excitement of meeting the gentle giants known as manatees.

Ideal conditions

For manatee tours, we recommend snorkeling while wearing wetsuits. This makes the interaction as silent as possible and encourages the animals to approach you. To ensure every outing goes as planned, we maintain new suits and snorkel gear and include them in our tour packages. We also provide videos and pictures so you can take home memories of your excursion. But as you enjoy your day while we leave nothing to chance, the animals must be allowed to live their lives and love the encounter as well. And that means you’ve got to mind your manners during your visit to their habitat.

Maintaining your distance

When in the water, manatees may be difficult to see, particularly if you travel in a boat. Often, the signs that manatees are around include a swirl on the surface caused by a diving animal or a break in the water surface made by the tail, snout or back of the animal. At times, however, there will be no such signs and you will only notice a manatee when it comes to the surface to breathe. Whatever the circumstances, keeping your distance and passively observing the animals are the best ways to interact with the manatees.

Two things about manatee manners are most important: (1) slowly and quietly getting into the water without disturbing the manatees and (2) floating silently and patiently in the water until a curious animal approaches you. If you master these two skills, you will keep the amount of sediment rising from the bottom of the river to a minimum and keep resting or sleeping manatees in their relaxed positions, even after you get into the water and move slowly around them. In turn, you will have a delightful experience.

Minding your manatee manners

It is bad manners to disturb resting or sleeping manatees. You may never know why an animal is resting and may disrupt one that is conserving energy or trying to stay warm. Just as humans don’t like being disturbed when they rest, animals like to be left alone during their down time. Likewise, it is bad manners to hover over a manatee as you swim or to try petting one as it comes to the surface to breath. Remember that a manatee coming to the surface is not doing so to play with you, but as matter of survival.

While it can sometimes be frustrating when a manatee does not approach you, do not chase or move closer when it passes by. Just keep your hands to yourself and allow the animal the space to move freely. It is harassment of the sea mammal to chase, touch, pursue, grab, hold, corner, surround, pinch, poke, prod, stab, ride or attempt any of these actions with your hands or feet. Resist the temptation to feed or give the animal water to drink. Avoid initiating contact with a tagged or belted animal—an action may interfere with rescue or research activities. It is also harassment when to stand on a manatee, separate a mother and a calf, or separate one manatee from a group.

Ride safely through their habitat

When you are boating in a manatee habitat, the best practice is to stay in deep water as much as possible and avoid shallow areas and sea grass beds. You should also stay away from warm water areas because they are often filled with congregations of manatees, particularly in winter. If you have trash, make sure it does not get into the manatee habitat. You must discard your hooks, microfilament lines and other trash properly because litter in the water may end up ingested by animals or entangled them, causing their injury or death.

As a rule, observe manatees at a distance, using polarized sunglasses to see the animals clearly from above the water. When swimming, avoid excessive noise and splashing, keep off designated manatee sanctuaries, and pay attention to posted signs. Also, when you are operating a powerboat, remain at least 50 feet away from a manatee as soon as you see it.

At Captain Mike’s, we want you to visit Crystal River, snorkel with the manatees, and have an amazing and memorable experience. We also want you to respect the animals and their habitat and avoid any actions that may endanger, injure or distress them. We are a manatee respecting operator and will offer you the guidance you need to enjoy your experience and avoid fines for breaching manatee protection laws. With us, you will love your outing but not at the expense of the animals. For more information on our extraordinary tour offers, visit the Captain Mike’s Swimming With the Manatees website.

Swimming with the Manatees boasts the best water adventure in Crystal River, Florida with lots of things to do for you and your family. For more information, contact us online, or call us at (352) 571-1888.

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