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Bobu last won the day on November 16 2015

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  1. Thanks Tarek! I will definitely make another trip to Palau in the next years. It's an awesome place, both underwater and above the water. And I just watched your video: really great, especially the combination of underwater and drone footage. Boris
  2. Thanks everybody for all your helpful advice! I just returned from my trip to Crystal River and unfortunately I'm a bit disappointed. As written above any booking via email in advance was just not possible. I never got any answers from any of the tour operators despite some addtional telephone calls to them from some very friendly and helpful fellow wetpixel member. Nevertheless I managed to book some tours directly in Crystal River at American Pro Divers. This is what we booked: 1st day: Homosassa Springs tour at 6:30 am + Rainbow River tour at 1:00 pm 2nd day: renting a kayak and visiting Three Sisters Springs (not via American Pro Divers) 3rd day: Homosassa Springs tour at 6:30 am + Rainbow River tour at 1:00 pm 4th day: Crystal River tour at 8:30 am 5th day: Crystal River tour at 8:30 am We had some bad luck with the weather. The weeks before we arrived it was very cold and hundreds of manatees were at the springs but when we arrived it was getting warmer and most of the manatees left the area for feeding. At Homosassa Springs we saw only 2 manatees, at Three Sisters Springs 3 and at Kings Spring (Crystal River tour) 2. But that can happen with nature and was not our biggest problem. My main problem was that the groups were much too big for any kind of serious underwater photography. The boats had 16 seats and were always fully loaded with 16 people. Can you imagine what happens if 16 people try to chase and touch one manatee at the same time? In addition the water was very shallow and the ground was muddy. What happens when 16 tourists, inexperienced in swimming with fins, try to chase a manatee in shallow water with muddy ground? Right: visibility gets down to zero. Sometimes I was not even able to see my own hand in front of me. Furthermore we were not the only boat there, not even at the 6:30 am tour at Homosassa Springs. At Three Sisters there were about 20 boats and about 200 people in the water. I was really trying hard but in these conditions it was just not possible to get any good images. We even canceled the Crystal River trip on our last day because it was just too frustrating. I'm not really blaming American Pro Divers for this, the guides were friendly, competent and tried really hard to get the best out of this situation for everyone on the boat and all other tour operators had similar much too big group sizes. If I would repeat this trip (which I won't do) I would not book any group tours at all, just rent a boat and get to the springs before sunrise and hope to get some shots before the first tour boats arrive. If you study some maps and talk to some experienced local people the manatees are easy to find by yourself. You therefore need no guide. And you should clearly avoid any visit around Christmas time Maybe my above experience will help other people to get a more satisfying trip to the manatees. Some more advice from my side: - if you book a group tour all tour guides stricly forbid any kind of flash photography (fins were never a problem), as written on wetpixel there will soon be a new law which further restricts the use of flash even outside of group tours - if you spend several hours in the water take the warmest wetsuit you have, I brought my 8mm one with an aditional 7mm hood and was happy to have it, my daughter was freezing in her 7mm suit (with 7mm hood) - the Holiday Inn in Crystal River is ok and can be recommended - getting good food in Crystal River is not easy, especially if you are a vegetarian like my daughter (you can choose between literally hundreds of burger shops, but that's it) - Rainbow River is fun, not the greatest place on earth for underwater photography, but we really enjoyed it
  3. Thanks glee719! I will try to get to Homosassa River. Boris
  4. Thanks megtooth for your help. I did send you a PM with the details of my email. Boris
  5. Thanks a lot megtooth. The Crystal Lodge Dive Center is what I called Manatee Central (the name of their website). I sent them an email 7 days ago. No answer so far. Maybe I should just travel to Crystal River without booking anything in advance. It's a bit crazy that it's much easier to organize a diving/snorkeling trip to Iceland or to Palau than to the US. Boris
  6. I'm still trying to book a manatee tour. I wrote emails to American Pro Diving Center, Birds Underwater and Manatee Central to book a manatee tour online. NONE of them send me an answer. Very strange. Do the tour operators in Florida don't need any customers or is using email as a communication medium not that widespread in Florida? Maybe I should just rent a kayak and try to explore the Crystal River by myself. Boris
  7. In October I went for six days to the Cayman Islands for underwater photography of stingrays. All images were shot with my Nikon D800E and a Sigma 15mm fisheye lens in a Seacam housing with Superdome port. You can find some background information about this trip on my blog: http://wild-places.com/2014/11/23/stingrays-in-the-cayman-islands/ And some more images in my underwater gallery: http://wild-places.com/2013/09/07/underwater/ Cayman-1 by Wild_Places, on Flickr Cayman-2 by Wild_Places, on Flickr Cayman-3 by Wild_Places, on Flickr Cayman-4 by Wild_Places, on Flickr Cayman-6 by Wild_Places, on Flickr Cayman-9 by Wild_Places, on Flickr Cayman-10 by Wild_Places, on Flickr Cayman-12 by Wild_Places, on Flickr Cayman-13 by Wild_Places, on Flickr Cayman-16 by Wild_Places, on Flickr
  8. Thanks jmauricio for the additional information! I've contacted the American Pro Diving Center via email. Their answer was that I should call them. After my reply that I would prefer to book via email since English is not my native language and international calls to the US are rather expensive I havn't heard anything from them. It's probabaly time to change to Birds Underwater. Boris
  9. Thanks Joe and diverdoug! Joe, when will you go in December (beginning or end?)? Boris
  10. Thanks Joe! American Pro Diving Center is offering two different manatee tours: Crystal River and Homosassa Springs. Did you went on both? Which one is better for photography? Any hotels you would recommend close to the Crystal River? Boris
  11. I will travel to Florida in January to shoot the Manatees at Crystal River and have some questions: 1. How cold is the water? I have a 2mm wetsuit and a 7mm wetsuit. Which would you recommend? 2. Is it allowed to wear fins there? I read contradictory statements about this. 3. Which tour operator would you recommend (my preference are very small groups and lots of time for photography)? 4. How many days would you spend at Crystal River (up to 5 days would be possible)? 5. Should I bring a flash or is ambient light sufficient (I will be shooting with a 15mm FE on a D800)? 6. Can you recommend a cheap hotel close to the Crystal River? 7. Do you have any additional hints or advice for me? Thanks! Boris
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