#160 Manatee Snorkel

Did something today I never thought I would work up the courage to do. Go snorkeling? No. Get into a wet suit. Seriously I am super self conscious about my looks. I know I am chunky. I avoid tight clothing almost always. So me in a wet suit is not something I ever pictured. But I did it. Because it was mandatory. You know what? I looked sexy as hell. Check out my manatee like shape. Moving on.

A few weeks back I saw that Groupon had a manatee snorkel special. Bought the tickets right away with Christina and Corey but with many things going on in all of our lives we put off the adventure for a while. Finally got it scheduled for today so we headed out at the crack of dawn towards Crystal River. Arrived at the mall where Adventure Diving is located. We were asked to sign waivers, made to watch an informational video, given a few rules, and fitted for our wet suits. I thought I would struggle getting it on or fitting in to one. I was amazed at how well it fit.

Once dressed we drove out to the marina to meet up with our boat, or well pontoon. Took a while to set out due to the tardiness of another group joining hours (two girls and a guy just like us). Finally we set off on a beautiful ride through the river and kings bay past hunter springs and to a small canal were manatees were lurking. We were given pool noodles to cling on to as well as our snorkel masks. No flippers.  We were instructed to float face down, no paddling, not kicking, just floating as to not scare the manatees away.

I pretty much floated away from Christina and Corey and was by myself most of the time. The water was super clear and I could see the endless bottomless pit that was below me. Fishes swam around. I saw rocks or coral or walls whatever they were. They were all I could see other than the never ending blue. Finally I saw a growing mass in front of me. A big blob of a manatee. There were too many people crowding around it from another boat. I couldn’t get a great look at him. Didn’t have a magical face to face touching and rubbing his belly moment but I saw him huge, up close, and under water.

Eventually I found Christina and Corey but left them again to return to the boat as water had gotten into my mask. I climbed up on the boat and the man that was with the other group sat on the edge. He gave up due to his beard, water kept getting in his mask too. As my back was hurting a bit I decided to keep him company. We sat at the end of the pontoon feet hanging in the water as we talked and enjoyed the view. Turned out to be an awesome thing as I got to see a mother manatee and her baby swim by our feet. Everyone else that was crowding around the big one missed them.

I did end up going back in the water saw these amazing zebra looking fish. Found C and C again soon after ended up back on the boat where I took lovely pictures of other snorkelers. Did not want to wet and ruin my phone so it remained in my bag most of the trip. We took off earlier than normal as there weren’t very many manatees around. Took a tour of the bay in the pontoon where we saw giant tarpons following the boat, then back to the dock.

We had lunch at Crackers. Then we drove out to get bubble tea at 88 Bubble Tea & Cuisine at the Sunny Days Plaza in Crystal River. Some of the best I have ever had. It was a smoothie of sorts and man this lady really can make great ones. I had my all time favorite coconut milk tea with passion fruit bubbles. It was a great day. I am exhausted but it was worth it. I would definitely want to go again but perhaps earlier in the manatee season to make sure I get better glimpses of them. Maybe next year!

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