Yesterday, we headed northwest about 65 miles to the town of Crystal River. Crystal River is famous for their winter Manatee population. People come from all over the world to swim with them. In fact they had a Manatee festival last week-end.
There is a wonderful little kayak shop called Crystal River Kayak Company, on highway 19. You can rent kayaks from them, or launch your own. We launched both kayaks and parked the car for $7.00. There is a real easy place to launch with shallow, clear water. You can take a short 10 minute paddle to the famous “Three Sisters Springs.”
We were there in October and only saw one Manatee at that time. Manatee return to the warm spring waters starting about November and are here until the gulf waters start warming up….usually in March.
We paddled through a shallow and narrow canal about 10 minutes towards the open Crystal River. The water was clear with no currents or winds.
We paddled under a bridge.
Saw some orange trees.
A Lucky Duck…..and you know who I thought of.
Once we got out onto the main river, we were almost to the spot we were looking for.
We knew we were at the right spot when we started seeing all the boats.
There is an area where large boats cannot enter. It’s just wide enough for a Manatee, or a kayak.
Before I entered this area of no return. I noticed an area that was roped off. Upon closer inspection, I noticed these “rocks” all over the place.
Once I looked a little closer, I realized these rocks were actually Manatee….and a lot of them!
They were sunning themselves.
It’s roped off so that the Manatee have a place to go without people bothering them. There was a ranger up on the bank making sure everyone stayed out of the area and no Manatee were disturbed.
Poor Al had just paddled right by, never even realizing this area was full of Manatee.
We paddled up the narrow canal with the turquoise water making for a post card like setting.
The water was shallow and there were some large boulders all along the way.
We were told there were no Manatee inside the main “Three Sisters Springs”, because the tide was too low for the larger ones to enter.
That is why so many were in the little holding pen outside the spring.
Once you get down this canal, it opens up to two huge “rooms.”
It’s incredible…even without Manatee. The pictures just don’t capture the beauty of this place. It’s amazing.
Unfortunately there were some very noisy women nearby that pretty much killed the moment. We were glad when they left the area.
We finally paddled over to the other “room” after we were told a Mother and baby were there.
I got a few pictures of the Mom.
The youngster seemed to really like Al. I think the baby was trying to nurse from Al’s kayak. Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the kayak to get any great pictures, but in the next picture, if you look carefully at Al’s hand, you can see the baby coming right up to his hand.
Two guys were standing nearby on a sandbar and said the baby tried to nibble on his toe. I think he was trying to nurse again.
We ended up only seeing two Manatee inside the spring area, but it was okay. It was so beautiful that it didn’t matter.
Al got pretty comfy.
One reason we love our Sea Eagle Kayaks is because they are so comfortable. Much more comfy than the old hard kayaks.
We piddled around there for quite a while and when we came back out to the “bull pen” it was so much more crowded….with people and Manatee.
This is where the mass of Hu-manatee came in. There were so many people and so many Manatee. You couldn’t get away from the Manatee to save your life. It was a regular traffic jam.
You are not allowed inside the pen and you are not supposed to paddle over the top of a sleeping Manatee. Easier said than done. There were so many Manatee in such a small area that it just got to be too much of a traffic jam, and we left.
We made the short paddle back to the launch site and packed up and went to the Homosassa River where Al had an account to do for some friends.
I sat on their dock with my feet up and watched more Manatee swim by.
It was a beautiful day.
They also have a upper dock overlooking the river. It sure made for a beautiful view.
See the Osprey nest right across the river?
We also saw a Bald Eagle flying by, but I was unable to get a photo of it.
It was a wonderful day. We’ll go back to the Three Sisters Springs again before we leave for the Keys.