Manatee Manatee
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River and Run Tour: Manatee Field Trip in Florida
(Click photos to enlarge)

Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida and the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Crystal River, Florida, are two very important natural warm water refuges where the Manatees congregate during the winter months. Both offer protected santuaries and viewing areas for visitors too.

At Blue Spring State Park, visitors can see Manatees from observations decks above the Blue Spring run. At the Crystal River, visitors can snorkel near the sanctuaries, and if they're lucky they may get a chance to see the Manatees swim right by them.

Journey North's Julie Brophy travelled to both places in January and had the rare opportunity to accompany Ranger Wayne Hartley in his research canoe as he conducted Manatee roll calls at Blue Spring. She also was able to accomapany Sirenia Project biologist Bob Bonde for some "in the water" research with the Manatees at Crystal River.

Julie took some photos to share her experience with you--here's a sampling of what she saw!

This way to the Manatees!

Looking up the Run

Ranger Wayne and Journey North's Julie Brophy ready to paddle into the Run

Ranger Wayne Takes the Run Water Temperature--always 72 F!

Who's Down There?

Do you see something on the log?

We've Got Company!

Protection for the Manatees at Blue Spring

Ranger Wayne Goes Over a Few Questions on Land

Rules for Boaters

Slow Down!!
This "Footprint" or glassy area shows where Manatees are present.

"Look at the Manatees!"
Blue Spring Manatee Fans Eagerly Watch from One of the Observation Decks

Early Settlers' Home at Blue Spring

Didn't See Any This Trip! But what should you NEVER do if you did?

On the Crystal River, Sirenia Project biologist Bob Bonde and Julie Brophy in their wet suits, ready to slowly steer the Research Boat out to the sanctuary. (Yes, those are rain drops on the water surface--we got soaked!)

As we slowly head for the sanctuary, looking back you can see the Crystal River NWR headquarters on the shore. This refuge is said to provide habitat for 25% of the Manatees in the country.

Bob Bonde skippers the Research Boat out to the sanctuary so I can accompany him for "in the water" research as he sketches and photographs the Manatees.

Bob's sketch plate, used to draw scars of the Manatees he observes underwater

Yes, we even saw a Cow with her Calf!

Didn't get an underwater picture of me--but this is what it would have looked like if we had. Next time!

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