Manatee Encounter and Crystal River Snorkeling – Pittsburgh Photographer

On day two of our Florida vacation, we set out with the lovely folks at Birds Underwater Manatee Tours.  The weather was very cold, especially for Florida standards and for my standards when I am going to go swimming.  It was only 30F at sunrise and most sane tourists would have been scared away.  But that would not stop the Dembski/Voss Clan.  So there we went.

Boarding the boat at sunrise with all of our gear…..

All of the smoke on the water is actually steam from the 72F water.  This area of the gulf (Kings Bay area) is fed by warm water springs.

The manatee all hang our near a sanctuary where the warm water comes from the hot springs.  The water is very warm, but there is no food.  The manatee have to travel 3-7 miles out of their way to find food.  Like me, manatees are vegetarians.

Here they are chewing on the ropes anchoring our boat.  Manatee love ropes.  Num num num….

Nicki, mom, and Jay get in the water.  Photo by Dad.  I am hiding on the boat (but I should have gone in as soon as possible, the water was way warmer than sitting on the boat).

Finally, I got in.  Me with a manatee, though he is making a getaway.  Sneaky sea cows.

Using the rope like some dental floss.  Photo by Nicki.

After our manatee swim, we ate a much needed breakfast and geared back up for a float down Crystal River.  The lovely Rhonda, from Birds Underwater, captained our boat upstream in the river for a 1-hour float.  At the upstream portion of the trip, everyone gets out of the boat and floats back to the parking lot, basically.

Nicki and Ryan soaking up the sun through their black wetsuits.  Note the sexy wetsuit caps.

The river is super clear while moving 4-5 mph.  The river dips down to 20′ deep at some points and other times is only 4′ deep.  It was super cool!

Nicki, my camera shy sister.

Me, I snorkel with Ryan and Jay.  Nicki, Mom and Dad stay underwater with their scuba gear.  Obviously, I’m asking Nicki for the camera using the international symbol for camera.

Sisters. Nicki is the easiest to spot with her pink snorkel and fins.

Self portrait

Nicki was taking of photos of me from below.  I was playing around with some deep dives.  Not surprisingly, I swallowed a lot of water.

Nicki and Dad doing handstands.

Nicki in the grass.  Photo by Dad (Rich D).

Here is a fish passing by the warm water springs.  You can see them bubbling up from below, looking like a simmering pot.  The water is not boiling or anything, that is just how it arrives.  Photo by Nicki in her scuba gear.

Nicki taking a breather.  I like this photo.

At the 20′ deep areas, the scuba divers were having a great time exploring.  Good for them, but seriously blocking my view of the springs.

Again, this is what I saw. A lot.

Nicki diving down.  I really like the framing in this photo.  Again, all underwater pics taken on the Canon G11.

And after the swim, we are tired, and waterlogged, but still awesome.

And this photo because we spent so much time moving gear, unpacking the car, drying wet suits, drying towels, and repacking the car.  So worth it for new life experiences.

One more dive left on the trip–divers only.  Time out for snorkelers at “Paradise Springs.”

  • JessiJanuary 20, 2010 - 10:31

    These pictures are so awesome! I’m so very jealous of your Florida vaca!

  • RICH DEMBSKIJanuary 21, 2010 - 05:24

    The only thing better than Crystal River would have been Manatees in the Crystal River.Dam that Dam.

  • sisterJanuary 21, 2010 - 09:39

    poppa, i believe you meant “damn that dam” when i would teach my students about dams, i’d let them say dam all they wanted. they liked it.

    sister, these pictures are beautiful. i think birds underwater will be super pumped to use your pictures on their website. (o:

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