Everyone loves to snorkel with Manatees. There’s nothing like grabbing an old flotation device, tugging on a snorkeling mask, and hooking up a tube to swim with manatees. From fascinating plant life to curious ocean animals, you can see it all. I’ve been snorkeling off the coast of the Bahamas and the shores of Hawaii. I’ve even swam around in the waters of Italy, Spain, and Greece. There is so much to see and do while snorkeling!
But I have never experienced anything like snorkeling with manatees.
No, I am not talking about sting rays or sharks or sea lions—all of which, though sometimes friendly in captivity, are not-so friendly in the wild. I’m talking about the one-and-only manatee. Snorkeling with manatees is a must-do for everyone; here’s why!
But first… what even is a manatee?
Manatees are large aquatic mammals frequently referred to as sea cows. Manatees get this nickname because they are big, slow, and spend up to seven hours a day grazing on sea grasses. Doesn’t that remind you of cows? They have a gentle temperament and spend most of their time swimming around in search of food and warm water.
Have you ever seen what a manatee looks like? They look a little like a hippo, a seal, and a household dog mixed. They’re large animals that can reach up to as long as 13 feet and can weight anywhere from 1,000 to 3,500 pounds. A bottlenose dolphin weighs somewhere between 350 to 1,400 pounds. A manatee can weigh up to 2,000 more pounds than those dolphins! Up close, manatees seem massive!
This air-breathing animal’s most distinguishable feature is their snout. A manatee snout is similar to an elephant trunk. Manatees trunks are much shorter but it helps them eat, feed, and breathe. Funny enough, the elephant is the manatee’s closest animal relative. There are three types of manatees: West Indian manatee, African manatee, and Amazonian manatee. The West Indian manatee is the only type found near the United States.
Specifically, the West Indian manatee can usually only be spotted in Florida. The Crystal River manatee swim is a great coastal city close to a national wildlife refuge that protects manatees throughout the entire year. With warmer temperatures, the manatees enjoy this area in Florida. They are considered a migratory species because they prefer warmer water and will migrate throughout the year to wherever they can find it. West Indian manatees can move between salt and fresh water because they need air to survive. They must breathe air every 3 to 20 minutes to continue living. All of this means that manatees are usually close to the surface and easy to spot. They do, however, have algae growing all over them. This can sometimes make it a little more difficult to spot them. Aren’t they cool?
However, it is one thing to learn about manatees. It is a whole other thing to experience snorkeling with manatees. If you’re wondering why you should consider snorkeling with them, you have come to the right place!
Let’s dive in into ten reasons why you need to try snorkeling with manatees!
Manatees are friendly creatures. Unlike many other ocean animals, they like being around humans. Snorkeling with manatees allows you to come just close enough that these slow-moving animals will also want to come closer to you.
When you’re snorkeling with manatees, you will have the chance to interact with them. They will notice you and, as long as you are not disturbing their habitat or obstructing them in anyway, will happily coexist. Sometimes they will even want to explore to see who you are.
Don’t touch a manatee! It’s important to note that touching a manatee is illegal in the state of Florida. Manatees are protected by federal laws and it is important that they are respected. However, that doesn’t mean that a manatee won’t come close enough for you to look them in the eyes! If you accidently bump into one, make sure you only use one hand.
Snorkeling with manatees is an unreal experience due to how close these large animals will come. You won’t believe how big they are until you’re right next to one. Don’t let their massive size deceive you though—and that brings me to my next point.
Manatees are not dangerous. They are peaceful creatures who’d prefer to slowly move through their lives. They have no natural predators and have no natural prey. Once in a while, a small fish will sneak into their stomach, but otherwise they are on a plant-only diet (which is why they have to graze for most of the day to eat enough food).
As herbivores, who eat mostly grass, they have no interest in eating you. They also have little interest in attacking you in any other way. The structure of their snout limits manatees from biting or using their teeth to attack. They physically can’t bite you (they’ll never have a movie called “Soul Surfer” based after them, that’s for sure). Throughout history, they are not known for hurting or attacking humans; therefore, it is safe.
It should be noted, however, that you should always respect manatees. When snorkeling with manatees, you must allow them space to swim and avoid poking, prodding, harassing, or bothering them. As gentle as they are, they’re also wild animals. Their biggest predator is us (and places where they’re losing their habitats). It’s a good rule of thumb to treat everything in the ocean with respect. Thanks to reserves and the help of people who are passionate about manatees, we can all can snorkel with manatees. Consequently, that brings me to my next point.
Sure, you could go to the zoo and see a manatee. But there is nothing like snorkeling with manatees. For those who are confident to those who are a little more apprehensive around water, snorkeling is a great option! You will be given a flotation device you can rely on to keep afloat and gear that allows you to keep your head under the water; you don’t miss a thing!
Snorkeling is great for confident and beginner swimmers alike. With equipment to keep you breathing under water and staying afloat, you can put all your energy and attention into watching these gentle giants. There won’t be any glass or screen between you and the animal—why would you want other things to come between you and them?
Snorkeling with manatees is easy and unforgettable thanks to the equipment. But that’s not the only reason snorkeling is the way to go.
Manatees love stillness. Snorkeling is the easiest way to be still!
Snorkeling with manatees is calm and quiet—and manatees like that. Manatees have poor vision but an incredible sense of touch. They are extremely aware of their environment through little hairs all over their bodies. This means that they are distracted and disrupted by splashes, quick movements, and anyone moving around them. It is important to remain still and quiet while in the water with them. This is the best way for them to come near you.
Snorkeling with manatees allows you to do so by making it easy to quietly observe without needing to constantly swim to the surface for air. You don’t want to scare them off!
If you’re looking for a chance to get as close as you can to these magnificent creatures, then there really is no other way to do it. Snorkeling with manatees is hands-down the best way to be around them.
Of course, first you must find where they are to be around them! Manatees aren’t going to be hanging out in your local stream beds or coastlines.
Yes, that’s right! The next time you book a trip to the Sunshine State, you better book your ticket for a snorkeling with manatees tour! This is an incredibly unique experience that you can’t have in any of the other 49 states. With a perfect mixture of temperature, available water, and ocean grass/weeds, manatees in Florida prefer it to any other state.
Once you’ve explored the other treasures Florida has to offer, you can book yourself a tour to be taken right to where you can snorkel with manatees. You’ll be provided equipment, a guide, and instruction. A trip to Florida would not be complete without a trip to see the manatees. These locals have been around far longer than anyone else or anything else you could see on land.
It is important to note that during the summer months, manatees can occasionally be sighted near Texas and most of the east coast. But you will never find as many as you will near Florida. And so, next time you’re in Florida, don’t miss out!
I found a tour that made the whole experience easy! I was able to rent equipment and a guide. They do all the hard work of finding where the manatees are, collecting the essential gear, and compiling all you need to know about manatees before you dive in with them.
Booking a tour to snorkel with manatees is an affordable experience that enriches the entire experience. You can find a tour that fits your needs. They range in time and location. I typically would be the type of person who avoid tours, but these snorkeling with manatee tours were worth it. With a little research, you can find the best tour for you.
They can be booked online. If you’re like me, you just want the easiest way to do something! Reserving a tour is the answer for us.
Snorkeling with manatees is a great winter activity. While most of the United States is bundling up and avoiding the dropping temperatures, you could be snorkeling with manatees in Florida. So, pack a bag and leave your chilly home!
As someone who thrives on being outside, I find it particularly hard to fill my days during the winter. Snorkeling with manatees is a great solution. During the winter, manatees move towards the land. They chase the warm water and spend the winter months in springs. This means that you can access their location with relative ease in the wintertime. There is nothing like a swim with the manatees. There really is nothing like it!
Don’t miss the opportunity in the winter to see Crystal River Manatees. The water there is consistently 72 degrees all year long. That is some warm water! You won’t have to worry about your toes going numb. Snorkeling with manatees is a great way to escape the harshness of winter while still staying outside. It’s the kind of adventure that you can have all year long.
These gentle giants, curious and friendly in nature, move slowly through the water. When you snorkel with manatees, you will be able to join in with their slow and gentle lifestyle. There is nothing like floating in the quiet current of the water with the outside world cut out. These peaceful mammals can teach us a thing or two about relaxing! Imagine if we could graze for seven hours a day to fulfill our dietary needs!
Manatees show us how quickly we move through each day because they do the exact opposite. There is something to be learned from them when it comes to slowing down. It is helpful for us, as humans, to take moments every day to just breathe, and think, and exist. These few things are exactly what the great manatee has perfected! It is no wonder they live so long—around 65 years!
Remember, it is important to stay still around manatees. This will add to the relaxing experience and your connection with the manatees. Snorkeling with manatees is a very peaceful experience.
Manatees are known for being playful. There are reports of manatees flipping over to open their bellies to humans and enjoying swimming with manatees of their kind. Manatees love to see why you’re there and what you’re up to. Unlike most marine life, manatees, unless startled, will even come to you!
Snorkeling with manatees allows you to get just close enough that they will want to come and interact with you. You’ll find some new friends when you go!
It is also fun to observe manatees interact with each other. As mammals, manatee mothers and their children are bonded for around two years as the calf grows. Yes, you heard me right! Manatee babies are called calves! They’re just as cute as you’d expect. The gestation period for manatees is between 12-14 months and manatees give birth under water. There is so much that can be learned about these creatures through watching them.
Snorkeling with manatees provides you an opportunity to immerse yourself, quite literally, into the world of manatees. It is…
There are plenty of things you can do outside; hiking, ATVing, camping, swimming, surfing, etc. But there really is nothing comparable to snorkeling with manatees. There is nothing like sliding into the waters of another animal’s life. These large mammals are not that different from us. They breathe air, feast, and have strong mother/young relationships. If you watch closely, you may be able to witness emotions pass through manatees through the noises they make.
This is an experience that most people do not get to have. If you’re ever able, I would highly suggest doing it. There are very few times that you will be able to connect with a sea animal in the same way that snorkeling with manatees allows you to connect to manatees.
These friendly mammals are not so different from us. It’s amazing to get out of our office cubicles and classrooms to see a part of the world that has existed for more than 60 million years. Yes, you heard me right. They are thought to have existed for the last 60 million years!
There you have it! Ten reasons why you should consider snorkeling with manatees. I would highly suggest anyone who loves the outdoors and animal life to find a way to spend a day snorkeling with manatees. If you’re looking for any sort of marine adventure, snorkeling with manatees is one of the best to have. You will be guaranteed a memorable day and I bet you’ll even come back to do it again (I know I would).
I can tell you a thousand reasons why you should snorkel with manatees, but I would much rather you get to experience the reasons for yourself. You won’t regret it!
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