Every year manatee gather around Homosassa Springs. The spring water is warmer than the local bays and rivers so they come up into the springs in the coldest part of the year.
The spring is inside of Homosassa Springs State Park and they do a really good job of watching over the manatee. They have volunteers who spend their time in a kayak, making sure the swimmers are not harrassing them.
They have markers set up and people are not allowed in that part of the spring. That gives the manatee a place to go if they don't want to be disturbed.
Interestingly, the manatee have this figured out and when they are tired of being petted they swim back into the closed area.
Swimming with them is a magical experience. They're so gentle and will nudge you and then roll over, wanting you to rub their bellies.
The boys were so little the last time we went that I was afraid they would be scared
But this baby swam over to us and all fear they had was gone.
The babies are particularly cute.
There are several companies located in Homosassa that offer manatee swimming trips
We like to rent a boat of our own so we can explore while we're on the river.
Even if you don't like donning a wet suit and plunging into cold water, the manatee want to interact with you.
They'll swim towards your boat
Get up close
And then roll over hoping for a belly scratch.
I really hate the cold and hate cold water even more but swimming with these incredible creatures makes it worthwhile.
Looking at these pictures are making me want to go back this year. I think I hear manatee calling my name!