Last year I spent 10 days in Crystal River, Florida swimming and snorkeling with the manatees. It was a great experience and one I have wanted to do for a number of years, but Florida is so far from my part of the world that I just never was able to do it before.
It's also pretty confusing from a distance to understand what is actually required to swim with and photograph the manatees... There seemed to be a lot of rules, but exactly how they apply to underwater photographers was not clear till I got some great help from Bill Oestreich and Marty Senetra at Birds Underwater and Gregory Sweeney - who freely offered advice despite the fact that my dates could not work with his guided trips.
It looks like (for once in my life...) my timing was superb as I had a great time and had some real quality moments with these wonderful creatures, plus I was able to understand a lot more about them and their overall, somewhat troubled, relationship with the terrestrial residents of Crystal River - a very interesting situation!
My timing was good because access to the manatees is changing and some of the new rules were being put in to place when I went back to the Crystal River in January after a shark trip to the Bahamas.
I have written a pretty comprehensive location seven-page guide to Crystal River and the Florida manatees on my site to help others who are interested in experiencing these interesting and photogenic animals. Just follow the links at the bottom of each page or click on the relevant page you are interested in on the sidebar.
I also had a 18-page article on the Manatees of the Crystal River published in Anima Mundi magazine, with my favorite photograph from the trip getting the front cover!
I will update my site when the ramifications of the proposed changes at the Crystal River go in to place.