Wednesday, November 5, 2008
For a very long time now, I have wanted to swim with manatees. I have swum with sharks and dolphins (multiple times), and next on the list were manatees, currently an endangered species. Fortunately, this trip to Florida has fallen at the beginning of their migration to the warmer waters of the Florida springs, affording me a greater chance of being able to interact with them. My interactions with sharks and dolphins were naturally limited. The dolphins came closest, checking me out with their sonar, fascinated with my artificial fins, hovering near as long as I didn't reach for them. The sharks were more hesitant, checking me out as they did leisurely swim-bys. The manatees, though, were actively interactive on a level I never could have hoped for. Though it is illegal for a human to swim toward or in any minuscule way pursuit a manatee, there is no need to do so. They come to you. They nudge you, use their fins to show you where to scratch, roll over and show you their bellies to rub. They're not unlike big water puppies. At one point, as I was swimming away from a couple of manatees with which I had been playing, they took turns swimming under me and then lifting me up on their backs trying to get me to stay and play. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced.
The hubby's cave diving instructor recommended we use Bird's Underwater which was a wise choice. They were pleasant, knowledgeable and environmentally aware. Below are a couple of pics of Crystal River, Florida as viewed from the river system that allows a person to travel through it--not unlike Venice.
Our first stop was at Three Sisters Spring. The hubby is snorkeling in the left of the pic, and you can just barely pick out a mama manatee and her calf to the right of the brown sign.
The hubby hovers waiting for me to join the fun.
The pic below is of the actual Three Sisters Spring which is accessed via a short "run." The spring sits back in the woods in an idyllic enclave that makes me think of something a child would imagine in their their world of play--magnificent.
The hubby swims down into the sink to be amongst the large school of fish you can just make out in this pic.
The hubby and the manatee check each other out at our second stop at Magnolia Springs. Obviously the water here was a little less clear.
Now it's my turn...
Another mama and calf. This calf was much younger and a little nervous with us around.
This is the attractive after-dive (or snorkel in this case) look.
Today, I hung out at Peacock Springs State Park while the hubby went cave diving. Below is Peacock II. This is Orange Grove Sink. It, too, has its own cave system. You can just pick out the diver in the duckweed which, by the way, is gajillions of tiny leaves on the surface of the water, not unlike freshly mown grass on the surface of a puddle, not at all scum.
After I walked from Peacock to Orange Grove, I came back to Peacock and sat here at the picnic table and read. It was glorious.
5 rounds for time:
Double 16kg bent rows x 5
Box jumps x 5 (these are getting easier)
Pushups x 5
assisted pistols (one arm) 1/1
Hindu pushups x 8
Jumping lunges x 20
15 minutes of AMAP 16kg TGU = 18 today
Swimming with manatees. :)