Sunday, December 26, 2010

Well worth the trip: Paddling with Manatee in Central Florida

BY: B. Keith Plunkett

This website is destined to be one about Mississippi waterways. It would have to be. That's what's in my backyard. But, it should be about what's in close proximity to us too. If what's in Mississippi is in the backyard then there is some pretty interesting places to paddle out in the neighborhood.

Keith and Sharon Plunkett in Three Sisters Springs paddling
with the manatee
Some may think of a 10 hour drive as being outside the realm of what is defined as "close proximity". But, I suppose that depends on the quality of the trip. This trip to Central Florida has been one of supreme quality. That's because not many places in the world can you do what Sharon, Rickey and I did yesterday. You'll just have to check out the video to determine if it fits your definition of being worth the trip. I, for one, will drive it again in a heartbeat. And, as I write this, I have a week left to find some other reasons to come back.

Sharon and this manatee at the Homasassa River enjoy a moment
of bonding. 
The videos below were filmed on the way to and at Three Sisters Spring off of Kings Bay in Crystal River, Florida. It's about a three mile paddle from the back door of the house we rented for our annual Christmas Vacation. Three Sisters Spring is one of many warm springs that feeds into Crystal River and give the manatee a place to birth calves and escape colder winter waters, and one of the few places in the world you can kayak and swim with these gentle giants. It's a little nerve-wracking to know that if they had a mind to do it, these animals could snap the kayak with a flip of their massive tail. But, once you have begun to scratch his or her belly, they are completely under your control. They'll even roll over in order to give you easier access.

On the way upstream towards Three Sisters Spring from Kings Bay.

This big fellow's curiosity got the best of him, and he couldn't resist getting a closer look.

At the mouth of Three Sisters Spring the water is a clear blue and the manatee number in the dozens.

The clear water makes for a great opportunity to capture some good underwater photo's.

The barrier designed to keep out larger boats bears no testament to the wonders that await inside Three Sisters Spring.

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