Our “appetites” for watching the manatees haven’t been completely satisfied yet. We continued with our search along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
We visited Weeki Wachee State Park, where we got to see the famous Mermaid show. The next day we floated down the Weeki Wachee River in our canoe. We did our best to float slowly, because the river in itself was so beautiful we wanted to enjoy it as long as we could. We saw one manatee from the bank of the river and then another one from the canoe swimming right underneath us. Wow!
Then we went to Chassahowitzka River Campground located inside the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. There, soon after checking in and setting up our camp spot, we went down to the boat ramp where totally unexpectedly we saw two manatees near the shore. A cow and her calf were feeding on the grass on the river bottom. Several people watched the show with us. One man happened to be snorkeling at the same time so he got to see them better than anyone else. We thought to ourselves “Why don’t we put on our snorkeling gear and try to watch them too?”. We got back to our camp spot, donned our wet suits, and trotted back to the river hoping to be able to see the manatees again. With masks and snorkels we explored the Seven Sister Springs and the banks of "The Chaz" river. It was probably 20 minutes after we entered the water when Steve first spotted a pair of manatees. The cow was about 10 feet long while the calf about 6-7 feet long. Both were grazing on thick sweet water grass that covered the bottom of the river near the spring located closest to the boat ramp. We kept watching them without disturbing them in any way, but it was obvious the calf was quite curious about us. We kept a safe distance and stayed near them for as long as we possibly could. Even with thick wet suits, it got pretty chilly and I had to get out of the water. Wish I could have stayed longer, because this was absolutely once in a lifetime experience. We were both so ecstatic and thrilled about our encounter with the manatees we just could not stop talking about it after leaving the water. We both agreed that this was probably one of the most amazing moments in our lives. Maybe we’ll wish some day we had an underwater camera to document that otherworldly moment, but for now we’re glad we didn’t have a camera with us and could totally immerse ourselves it the experience, without any distractions.
We saw a total of seven manatees on this trip but these last two that we snorkeled with, with their gentle moves and friendly faces, will stay in our memories for the rest of our lives.