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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Crystal River


After my failed attempt to swim with manatees last Saturday had to try again. Long story short, and in a few words: Crystal River. I did burn a vacation day today to go to Crystal River and beat the weekend crowds. It was supposed to be yesterday but had an important meeting so changed the plans for today.Cannot tell you how happy we were with that decision. Spent just a little over three hours on the kayak and in the water but we made the most of it.

Three Sisters' Manatee

Put In / Take Out: Hunter's Spring Park in Crystal River. It is located at 104 North East 1st Avenue in Crystal River. It is a very nice facility with rest rooms and a small beach. Parking is not too big so if you plan to attend on a weekend, arrive early. There is no charge.

Ibis at Hunter's Spring Park

We arrived just after 8:45 AM and had the kayak in the water at exactly 9 AM. A nice couple did put in before us. I saw at a bank's sign 51F as the temperature on our way there. A slight breeze coming from the North and a light chop at King's Bay. Two manatees near Pete's Pier welcomed us. One of them circled our kayak for a few minutes until got tired of us trying to get an underwater pic. Wifey wanted to shoot some pics in a small island just outside Pete's Pier but I convinced her to leave that for later. I wanted to go to Three Sisters Spring and check for manatees there. She was not too thrilled with the idea of me getting into the water with the cold weather. My argument that the water was warmer than the ambient temp gained some points when she realized I was right. When we crossed under the Kings Bay Dr bridge more manatees where visible and she started to feel excited about it.

Osprey has a needlefish for breakfast

Three Sisters Spring
The pic above was my favorite to open this post. I do think it is spectacular, but the manatee besides the kayak was too hard to pass. Anyways, back to the post. We asked a trio of kayakers coming from the springs area if there were manatees inside Three Sister's. They said that there were about 15 of them. Sweet...was my first thought. Because the cold weather Magnolia Springs was close since it is part of the Manatee Sanctuary. The small spring just at the end of Three Sisters Spring Run was also roped. Usually it is from November 15 to March 1st but if there is cold weather it is done earlier to protect the manatees. When we arrived at  Three Sisters we went directly into the small run after waiting for 5 snorkelers to exit. Only one tour boat was in the area. Once inside the spring we shared it with only two kayakers, the same ones that put in before us at Hunter's Spring Park.


When I took off my long sleeve sweater and jumped into the water I believe the other two kayakers thought I was crazy. But the water was a nice 72F and it was comfortable.  I am going to let the pics tell the story now. But let me tell you this before going to the pics. I was humbled by my wife on how to take good underwater pics. Her pics, which she took from the kayak with only her hands in the water, came back better than the ones I took on the water. I have no idea how she does it but she does. Only three or four of the ones I took made it to this post. The rest are all hers. That being said, here we go.

Manatee Mom and calf

Manatee and calf

Manatee Mom and a calf swimming under it

Manatee at the bottom of the spring



Manatee at the end of of the short run of Three Sisters Spring

Manatee rests at the bottom of the spring

Curious manatee

Same curious manatee, closer this time


Spent close to 40 minutes at Three Sisters, which we had to ourselves most of the time, and then about 10 more at the end of the run. A member of the manatee watch was the only other kayaker we saw at the spring and then two more on our way out. A tour boat arrived as we did exit but only one snorkeler jumped into the water. If you read this, greetings David. Do not ask. I will not tell what was the deal here. Luckily for me wifey brought me a warm hooded jacket and a beanie so I recovered quickly. From there we headed back to Hunter's Spring Park not without stopping to take pics of a couple of eagles that perched on a small island at the middle of King's Bay. Enough is are the rest of the pics.

Three Sisters Spring

Cormorant gets a needlefish

Manatees at the small spring outside Three Sisters Spring

Manatee at Three Sisters Spring

Osprey flying with a catch

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Bald eagles

Beautiful...and yes...the cormorant in the boat looks nice too

Brown Pelicans

Canadian Goose

Canadian Goose

Pied-Billed Grebe

Short Three Sisters Spring Run
 A short video of a cormorant...swimming..

And a couple of manatee videos.

And that is it for this one. Thanks for reading and sorry about the long post. See you soon to share more Views From Our Kayak.

Three Sisters Spring


  1. Good trip photos especially manatee, what camera you take it underwater.

  2. Hi,
    Will you please post a link to your Blog at The Kayaking Community? Our members will appreciate it.
    Members include: Kayakers, Kayaking Experts, Guides, Clubs, Groups, Etc.
    It's easy to do, just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website. You can also add Articles, Photos, Videos and Classifieds if you like.
    Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
    Please feel free to share as often and as much as you like.
    The Kayaking Community:
    I hope you consider sharing with us.
    Thank you,
    James Kaufman, Editor

    You made my day!

  3. Aron, we use an Olympus Stylus Tough.

    Rick...You really need to go kayaking.

    James, thanks for the invitation. It is done.

  4. Awesome pics and it is so wonderful the water is so clear to see them. Photos were just amazing. Thanks for sharing them.

  5. Those photos were so cool!

  6. What a wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I love these photos, as always. Manatees are my favorite animal (and I love every animal), which is why I'm forever iffy on my opinions regarding swimming with them. On the one hand, I hope that such an up close and personal experience with these amazing creatures will help foster a greater sense of duty to care for them in the general public. But I also think it's somewhat contradictory to have manatee harassment laws intact everywhere in the state except for the Crystal River/King's Bay, just for the sake of tourism dollars. And I know that not everyone swimming with them is respecting the rules that are still in place. But oh well.. it's not going to change any time soon.

  8. Octohawk, now that I read your comment just realized my post does not do a good job explaining the rules about the manatees. My bad there. I did not know that the rules are different at Crystal River and King's Bay though. Had the same mind set that I have when see manatees at other places: do not touch, do not feed, do not harass. That being different at Crystal River it only makes sense since manatee viewing is a great industry in that area and we all know that money rules. Not that I like it but that is the truth. I guess that all those boat owners are too powerful and organized and have lobbyists and lawyers in the State House watching their interests. I apologize for not doing a better job letting the readers know about what are the rules when you interact with manatees in the wild. At least you liked the pics. :)

    Cindy and Amy, thanks and glad you like the pics too.

  9. This is one of my favorite posts of yours, Luis. Spectacular!