Crystal River / by Felix Leander

Three Sisters - Manatees and Noodlers. Image by Manuel Menendez

Just 4.5 hours north of Miami, Crystal River becomes the home to hundreds of manatees during the Florida winters.  Last weekend a group of us ventured up for a quick getaway and interactions with the sea cows.  Raul Boesel Jr., Manuel Menendez and I packed our better halves, children, dogs, and of course equipment to capture what we thought would only be manatees.

There are two ways to dive in Crystal River - guided tours (with a bunch of "noodlers" - people that have never been in the water that use pool noodles to float) or renting your own boat / pontoon, of course we went with the latter.  There are several locations worth visiting - the most popular being Three Sisters.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife has a strong presence there to ensure the manatees are not molested by the noodlers + control the access to the spring.  We were lucky enough that access to the springs was granted as it has been closed for most of the season since there has been such a large gathering of manatees.

Each of us had an idea of what we wanted to capture:

  • Raul testing rear sync flash set-up motion blur (more on that soon)
  • Manuel to get aerial pics with his drone
  • Me - video of manatees / other

And while we did capture what we wanted to - we also found subject matters what we never expected to see such as a school of hundreds of Snook, mangrove snappers, and morning fog.  The results of the trip are below...

Mangrove snappers.  Image by Raul Boesel Jr

Video of Manatees, Snapper, and Snook while freediving in Crystal River, FL using a GoPro.  Video by Felix Leander

Manatee and Lala.  Image by Manuel Menendez

It is definitely worth a trip up and expect great southern hospitality when you go out to eat.