When we visit Florida in the winter months, we always rent a house from the fantastic team at Bird's Underwater
. The house is called the "fishbowl" and is located in Homosassa. It comes with two double kayaks, and using these to navigate the water ways is a great way to see manatees.
Species: Florida Manatee
Location: Homosassa, Florida
Equipment: Nikon D700, Sealux housing, 16mm lens, INON Z-240 strobes
Settings: f/6.3; 1/125; ISO-400
We loaded up the kayaks with our snorkeling and underwater photography equipment before the sun had come up. We paddled out just as the first light lit the waterways, to ensure that we would be the first visitors of the day, and we would get the manatees to ourselves. Homosassa Spring was about 5 minutes from the house, and as we arrived and made to tie-off the kayaks, the manatees had already spotted our presence and were gently nudging the boats. Caroline got into the cool water and raised her camera to take a shot as a manatee swam towards her. I was just off to the side of her, watching. The manatee just kept slowly approaching, Caroline lowered her camera, and the manatee gently "squished" against her mask. I took the shot.
Homosassa offers these unique encounters, away from the crowds, if you are willing to get up early and battle less than optimal visibility. However, it is also very much worth another early start to do a tour of Crystal River with Bird's Underwater
. Again, up early to beat the crowds, you will enjoy crystal clear water and plenty of manatees. It is a fantastic experience for underwater photographers, snorkelers and it is kid friendly too. A great way to introduce people to the wonders of our underwater world.
In our underwater photography, we love to portray the amazing experiences on offer in our seas, oceans and fresh water too. Diving with a buddy like Caroline enables me to get shots that show us interacting with amazing marine life. This shot always brings a reaction from the crowd during our talks, whether it is to divers or to non-divers, as it shows an encounter that few are lucky enough to experience - a wild animal choosing to closely approach and "kiss" a diver. This is why I love this shot.