I was on a manatee tour pregnant and with an almost 5 y.o. kid. It was our chance – in the nearest future, it would be difficult to swim with manatees and a baby/toddler :). At 7 am. we were already at the agency, and the actual tour started at 7.30 am. (Morning time gives you the opportunity to observe the manatee while they are most active.)
This is the second part of “Manatee story”, just about the tour. First part is all about the best time, locations, how to swim with manatee, and other details.
Traveling off-season has its pros: the entire boat and guide attention were just for us 🙂
Manatee tour, being pregnant. What’s it like
Although Crystal River Watersports was totally fine having a 6-month pregnant woman on board, better ask beforehand if there is one in your group ;).
I was a strong swimmer at this time, but it wasn’t necessary: the boat comes pretty close to the animals, all you have to do is swim around 5 meters or less. (Then put your mask on and float as long as you can at 72F, the year-round temperature at Florida’s springs)
Wetsuits were provided, included in the price, and are recommended for warmth and flotation. Next time I’ll skip it, I didn’t use to wetsuit. Artem, our son, as well.
Talk with our guide, Capt Robert
The entire trip was 3 hours long. We liked our guide for being informative and caring about animals. Thanks to him we learned a lot about the area, its residents, and manatees:
– Please don’t touch, especially flippers: mama manatee teat is at the base of the flipper.
– Manatee has no predators, can share habitat with alligators, who might accidentally swallow entire baby manatee and then have huge problems as they can’t digest its tough skin.
Riding “water” roads and crossing its intersections were also fun:
Huge waterfront mansion:
I don’t know the proper name for it, we called it “Vacuum for pulling greens from the bottom”:
The most desirable moment of the trip:
Baby manatee waving you “hello” and asking “Please don’t touch/harass/chase me and my mom for the perfect selfie!”:
Joking :). We saw 3 animals in the off-season and none were babies. One manatee was swimming under me, very slowly. Another one was passing by and the last one was sleeping on the river bottom, balancing only on its nose:
Overall, the entire tour went smoothly and quickly. If your kid is familiar with water, swim goggles, and well-rested/fed, you should be fine. We have more interest in manatees than our boy, but still, it was a very rewarding experience for him.
What to pack on a manatee tour
Water, snacks, hats, sunscreen, and towels. Favorite snorkel gear/goggles if you prefer to use your own. And GoPro/cell phone dry bag – you’ll be glad you have it on this tour!
Please observe with care. Spread the word, manatees need us!
If you’d like to stay dry but still watch manatee, I wrote about it, and many other important details in the first part of “Manatee story”.
Other Florida West Coast wildlife destinations explored being pregnant as well:
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary: Florida’s Wildlife Destination
Sanibel Island: Romantic, Family-friendly Gem in the Gulf of Mexico
P.S. Books and Movies about Florida
We have a family tradition to bring books as souvenirs. The one below is very tender and realistic: Florida’s manatees and their babies go through this experience almost every day. You can get it on Amazon for $5.
A great choice for older kids is Kate DiCamillo’s book “Because of Winn-Dixie“. A great introduction to living in Florida through the eyes of 10 y/o, her challenges, and joy.
“Dolphin Tale” is a heartwarming and inspiring movie about friendship and rescuing a dolphin; based on a true story. Don’t be surprised if your kids will ask you to be homeschooled and live on a boat! 😀
Thanks for reading, friends!