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ScouseLeeM on Tour
3rd Nov 2017 - 5th Nov 2017
Swimming with Manatees - Crystal Lakes & Homosassa

A bonus stop of the highest order, well worth anyones time if in Florida. In fact, even if not in Florida, worth flying there just to do this..

Never a bucket list item, but in retrospect it should have been. Heading out early morning after a safety/interaction briefing, we hit the river and spotted our first manatees within 2 minutes. Imediately out of the boat, we were face to face with 4 of them, and I spent 10 minutes swimming with one 2000 pound specimen upstream - that could make a whole lot of burgers, wonder what they taste like..with a side of tater totts, naturally.

Incredibly cute, docile and engaging, this was awe inspiring. The main river water was a little chalky, limiting the quality of photos, but we could see them very clearly as long as we stayed close. Next we were taken into the clearer water at the springs, where we got to intreact with another adult, followed by a mum and her very cute baby.

At this time of year, the manatees have just started returning to Crystal Lakes. Weather was beautiful, and way outside peak tourist season, so a perfect time to visit. In summer, you would be lucky to even see one manatee here, and if you come when manatees are here literally in their hundreds, huddling together around the springs for warmth (February), it is the middle of winter - so no sunbathing and pretty bloody chilly, even for us British. However, having done this once, if I'm around one February in the US, I think I have to return and do this again when they are here en mass. Quite a sight to behold by all accounts.

Feeling fulfilled, we gorged on an enormous beakfast at a Southern diner, where I got to 'enjoy' some grits, recommended by the locals. Well thank god I doused them in butter and could mix them with a cheese omlette, because as far as I'm concrened, I think they confused a 'gr' with 'sh' here...never again. After this, we whiled away a few hours at Homosassa, seeing even more manatees, alligators, snakes, foxes, wolves, all American bald eagles, black bears, and quite bzarrely, an African hippo. Couldn't really fathom that one out, enjoyable none the less.

With that, work beckons. A few more American shannanigans to come at Niagra and Atlantic City shortly, then its time to hit Europe and get some trips done before Brexit screws everything up - so think I can just about bear the thought of work for a month or so..

Previous: San Antonio & St Louis

Diary Photos


First Manatee sighting






Mom & Baby Manatee

Ignore at your peril...


Burrowing Owl

Baby gator



Sleeping bear


Bald Eagles

Black vulture


Sleeping fox


Big bad gator

Homosassa hippo

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