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Published: January 27th 2013
After St. Petersburg we headed back to nature. Up in Crystal Springs is an area with constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit (about 22 degrees Celcius) which attracts lots and lots of manatees when the temperature in the Sea drops below 68 degrees in winter. The manatees in turn attracts snorkler and kayakers, and in this case also us.
We had read the best time to see the Manatees is in the morning, so we decided to rent kayaks starting from sun rise and also booked a hotel in town for the night. With the preparations done we went to see some Manatees from a bridge over the stream leading to the spring and actually were able to spot a few gliding under the bridge. The manathees were however swimming at deeper water so we didn't see them that well.
The hotel room we had booked at the nearby Port Marina and Hotel had a sunny balcony protected from the cool wind, so as we didn't have any other plans for the day we enjoyed the warmth of the sun as long as it lasted. Then we moved down to the local Ale house for dinner, and sat there until it
closed at 8PM. As we had a early morning the next morning we then just went to our rooms to get some sleep.
In the morning the temperature was under 10 degrees Celcius, so we put on all our warmest clothes. The kayak we had rented turned out to be an open kayak, meaning it was a little bit wet to paddle around with it. The water was luckily warm as bath water (or at least it felt so) so we managed to keep warm. The Florida sunshine also helped a lot, it was a almost cloudfree day so there was a lot of it.
We needed to paddle maybe 500m from the Marina before we reached the bridge we had been to the previous day, and after that we started to see a lot of manatees. We also saw a lot of diving boats, and near the main area for the Manatees, the spring called the three sisters, a huge amount of snorklers. The Manatees payed little attention to our kayaks, but had quite much interactions with the snorklers, whether they wanted it or not. There were quite a lot of rules on how to behave with
the manatees, and we saw many of them broken during our trip, both diving boats driving straight trough a flock of playing Manatees and snorklers diving down to resting manatees to scratch them. We were very happy with our choise of the most non-invasive way of looking at these gentle giants, kayaking.
After returning the kayaks we still enjoyed the sunshine in the harbour for some time, spotting more manatees, but also birds, crabs, fishes, and Johanna even saw one flying fish. Then we set of towards Orlando, our last stop for the trip! Even though it was very nice to see the manatees in the morning, we would probably seen as many if we'd gone in the afternoon, because there was lots of them. And all the tourists were snorkeling there already when we arrived (the first boats were already leaving), so probably the Three Sisters wouldn't have been any less crowded later in the day.
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