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Manatee Update

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Here is a manatee post to tide all my pals over until I get my head above water sorting through all the pics I have.... (I suppose that is what is referred to though as a "good problem to have....." :D )

 

Best, Carol (Copy of my manatee blog text pasted below also from My Webpage).

 

Manatee_close_full_94_web.jpg

 

“Naturally Curiousâ€, yes I think the manatee above shows that our beloved domestic cats have nothing on the manatee as far as a totally curious nature!

 

I have so many great manatee photographs to share so please bear with me while I’m compiling all of them into groups and even some into DVD slide shows. As soon as I finish those and learn how to post video in my blog they will be up.

 

Manatee conditions as always have been changing dramatically from day to day. But there are lots of manatee at Crystal River. The challenge for me becomes finding them in clear-ish water, photographing them with rainbow light rays (which I LOVE), and avoiding having others around too much as that makes taking the underwater photographs more difficult as you can imagine.

 

This photograph was taken last Tuesday at about 8am. I was alone with manatee there (except for a couple of kayakers), for nearly an hour. What a treat! It was clear, cold and the water out front of the springs pictured here was clearing up. The water colors as I’ve stated before are ever changing and you can see it a bit in this photograph. Many times out front of some of the springs the greenish/cloudy water dominates, but at certain times the greenish water recedes and the clear blue water from the springs mixes and you get many shades of water color all in one photograph! Also, I don’t know exactly what it is but there is something I like about this photo??? I have lots and lots, so had to pick one to post quickly until I get them all organized...... So I picked this one. This young manatee was so curious and I think the expression here says it all.....

 

Much more soon! Carol

Edited by seagrant

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Hi Carol,

 

Great picture (he/she must have been thinking: who is that handsome manatee reflecting in that glass dome?)

 

I look forward seeing you (and the manatees) next month!

 

Best Wishes

 

Vincent

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Yes Vincent I agree..... "handsome".. :D

 

Best, Carol

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Hello Carol

 

Fantastic shot

 

Best Wishes

 

Thanks Carlos (I like your shots too...!)

 

I pre-focused this manatee photo and while that usually works out for the very, very close up photos sometimes I'm not so successful when I unexpectedly & quickly get a little more distance. But in this case it worked out perfect. :D

 

Thx, Carol

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Carol,

Is that still with the 16mm or have you taken the 10-17 for a spin?

Edited by loftus

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Here is a manatee post to tide all my pals over until I get my head above water sorting through all the pics I

 

 

Very nice shot

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Carol,

Is that still with the 16mm or have you taken the 10-17 for a spin?

 

Jeff that is with the 16mm, I have to pre-focus close on that lens you know as the af doesn't tend to focus that close and that is why it is volatile as it is easy for the subject to quickly float out of the CFWA range for not enough dof. But when it works, like it did here, it really works. You get a bit of shallower dof without killing the exposure but still very sharp (this was early am so that was important, not a lot of light yet....) Ryan Canon turned me on to locking focus on the 16mm in that way for CFWA (thanks Ryan!).

 

I have the Tokina and gear now, just arrived!! :D:excl: So maybe I won't have to be so "creative" with the 16mm close focus lock now...... I just want to wait till I get help to mount it the tokina, gear, etc - I hear help is coming? :)

 

Very nice shot

 

Thanks Drew, I think it is a "nice shot" because this manatee was extremely cooperative and interested in the photo too..... B) Carol

 

PS Drew, it reminds me of a photo posted by someone of a seabird and it said something to the effect of photoing something that "really wanted to have its photo taken"......, that was definitely the scenerio with this manatee...., nothing like photographing something that wants to be photographed, yes? :)

Edited by seagrant

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Hi, Carol, those are beautiful shots! I'm heading up to Crystal River this weekend. Do you have any tips to share for shooting manatees? Are you using strobes?

 

Thanks! :D

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Thanks Drew, I think it is a "nice shot" because this manatee was extremely cooperative and interested in the photo too..... B) Carol

 

PS Drew, it reminds me of a photo posted by someone of a seabird and it said something to the effect of photoing something that "really wanted to have its photo taken"......, that was definitely the scenerio with this manatee...., nothing like photographing something that wants to be photographed, yes? :D

 

 

 

Always a plus to have a bit of a ham on the other side of the lens :excl:

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Hi, Carol, those are beautiful shots! I'm heading up to Crystal River this weekend. Do you have any tips to share for shooting manatees? Are you using strobes?

Thanks! :guiness:

 

Well weekends are so crowded now they are pretty much "out" as far as photographs and the best observations (come during the week, mid-week). So I'd just suggest you go out with Bird's U/W very early as you will miss some groups and just enjoy the manatee that you do get to see a whole bunch. Don't worry about photos because so many people will be there it will just be too frustrating but you might get a pic or two. Yes, bring a strobe(s) because you need it early when the light isn't strong yet.

 

Always a plus to have a bit of a ham on the other side of the lens :guiness:

 

Ya, know........, I've kinda had to re-read this a few times and at first I thought you were calling my beloved manatee a "ham" :guiness: ......, then I thought "Which side of the lens is he talking about?"...... :P ......

 

Now here is a compliment Drew....., this is what my husband said when he saw the pic,

 

"Like he is just being timeless there."

 

Now, there at least someone is being "profound"..... :)

 

C :guiness:

Edited by seagrant

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Ya, know........, I've kinda had to re-read this a few times and at first I thought you were calling my beloved manatee a "ham" :guiness: ......, then I thought "Which side of the lens is he talking about?"...... :P ......

 

Now here is a compliment Drew....., this is what my husband said when he saw the pic,

 

"Like he is just being timeless there."

 

Now, there at least someone is being "profound"..... :)

 

C :guiness:

 

 

LOL. Sorry about that :guiness: Neither side is a ham then. A cooperative Manatee on one side of the lens, and someone who knows how they behave and how to shoot them on the other side of the lens. :guiness:

 

I think your husband did alot better job with what he said.:guiness:

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Hi, Carol, those are beautiful shots! I'm heading up to Crystal River this weekend. Do you have any tips to share for shooting manatees? Are you using strobes?

 

Thanks! :)

 

 

My wife and I will be there on Sunday. I've never went on a weekend but heard the traffic is pretty heavy and that taking pictures really tough. I'll pass on the advice I received.....go early, use strobes wide apart, behind the port and angled out to minimize lighting up the particulate. If its your first time there, stay still. Manatees will find you. If you're at King Springs, try and move to the head of the springs. If you're in 3 sisters anywhere there is manatee is good. You should wear a little weight to counter the buoyancy of the wetsuit. Other than that ... enjoy.

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Well I couldn't help sharing this little clip that I filmed while we were in Crystal River over the winter break. It was the first of two really cold days, there were not many people in the water and Manatees where everywhere.

 

Manatee showing off!

 

This guy(or gal?) wouldn't leave me alone or let me film him until he'd had a long hard scratch on his belly. I'm normally totally against touching marine animals in any way shape or form, but he followed me around like a puppy dog for about 30 mins constantly nudging me and pushing me around and whenever I was filming another Manatee he'd try and get between us and grab all the attention. A truly magical experience :)

 

On a slightly different note I wouldn't want to disagree with Carol, but personally when I was there I didn't see any operator (including Birds) who 'stood out' from the crowd. They all seemed to be just milking the tourists for all they were worth, with little or no control over their groups and hence what appeared to be very little regard for the Manatees. I was genuinely surprised about Birds in particular as I'd heard so many good things about them over the years. Perhaps it was just the time of year, but I'd agree 100% on Carol's advice on avoiding the crowds if possible.

 

Cheers, Simon

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Well I couldn't help sharing this little clip that I filmed while we were in Crystal River over the winter break. It was the first of two really cold days, there were not many people in the water and Manatees where everywhere.

 

Manatee showing off!

 

This guy(or gal?) wouldn't leave me alone or let me film him until he'd had a long hard scratch on his belly. I'm normally totally against touching marine animals in any way shape or form, but he followed me around like a puppy dog for about 30 mins constantly nudging me and pushing me around and whenever I was filming another Manatee he'd try and get between us and grab all the attention. A truly magical experience :)

 

 

Cheers, Simon

This clip just makes me chuckle, having experienced a similar thing two weeks ago. He's clearly got an itch! :P

Edited by loftus

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Well I couldn't help sharing this little clip that I filmed while we were in Crystal River over the winter break. It was the first of two really cold days, there were not many people in the water and Manatees where everywhere.

 

Manatee showing off!

 

This guy(or gal?) wouldn't leave me alone or let me film him until he'd had a long hard scratch on his belly. I'm normally totally against touching marine animals in any way shape or form, but he followed me around like a puppy dog for about 30 mins constantly nudging me and pushing me around and whenever I was filming another Manatee he'd try and get between us and grab all the attention. A truly magical experience :P

 

On a slightly different note I wouldn't want to disagree with Carol, but personally when I was there I didn't see any operator (including Birds) who 'stood out' from the crowd. They all seemed to be just milking the tourists for all they were worth, with little or no control over their groups and hence what appeared to be very little regard for the Manatees. I was genuinely surprised about Birds in particular as I'd heard so many good things about them over the years. Perhaps it was just the time of year, but I'd agree 100% on Carol's advice on avoiding the crowds if possible.

 

Cheers, Simon

 

Love the clip Simon!!

 

Yea, people who haven't been around curious manatee don't get that you actually cannot keep manatee observations to "no contact/no touch". If you don't touch them they will continually bump and rub on you which can of course be very distracting to the framing of your subject as a videographer or photographer! :) And again I've had manatee all over the state behave this way, even when I encountered them on scuba BTW...., so my feeling it that the natural close curiosity is their natural nature - when of course they are curious and not shy or sleeping, frightened, etc.

 

I'm glad the experience was "magical" for you Simon! You know I was traveling once in California and stopped in a popular dive shop in Santa Cruz and the owners wife heard where I lived and said that her husband (who has led dive trips all over the world), said that his experience of snorkeling with the manatee at CR was the single most profound wildlife encounter he has had in all his diving (and that is saying something).

 

Simon, I'm sorry if you perceived Birds to be less than you expected. I've known that family and their employees for years and found them to be extremely ethical and consciencious. Plus when Bill and Diane adopted two nine year old boys from Russia a couple of years ago I was even more impressed with their caring and ethical standards. But you can imagine with the operators and all the crowds - everyone must get frustrated with no controls in place, even though some have tried to work out crowd control measures (Bird's particularly). But I don't feel the operators are "milking" tourists in any way as if they didn't run manatee tours there would be that many, many more rented boats and "yahoos" who don't know what "idle" speed means, or what it means to cut your engine before approaching a sanctuary to not scare the manatee, how to anchor effectively, etc. The tour boats still are supervised much more than the private boats and rental boats.

 

In fact, get this. Yesterday I was there in the afternoon and I came out of the back of 3 sister's and saw two teenage girls splashing around right in the middle of the manatee sanctuary!!!!!!! I've never seen that before as it is posted all over and right next to the buoyed off area and it is a $20,000.00 fine!!!!!!!!!!!! So I saw this guy, anchored right next to the sanctuary (which is horrible in and of itself) and I told him what those girls were doing was illegal, that was a sanctuary, etc etc. And he said "I thought it was just closed to boats...." (Yea right, an intelligent looking guy with an expensive private boat can't read......). Anyway this just illustrates that while the tour boats might not be supervised during busy times as well as you would have liked or as well as they should be I agree - it is much better than no supervision of private boats and rental boats and "yahoos" who don't think the work "sanctuary" means anything........... (I'm pissed and also what kind of an example is he setting for those teenage girls - disregard for the law and ethical standards for the future? Plus it was so unnecessary because there were manatee around in other spots too.....).

 

So the upshot is I just hope we can salvage the manatee interactions at Crystal River as I've seen it time and time again, once up close and personal with manatee people end up crusading for them and being passionate about their plight (which is quite dire with all the boat traffic in Florida, etc.).

 

Also for everyone's info I was in the water yesterday afternoon with over 30 manatee and no one around for two hours. So quiet times are very possible with the manatee and it is a very profound and life-changing experience I must say - to observe them as they have been for thousands of years in the springs (minus the boat scars, etc. of course....). It is very much as my husband said about my photograph above they are there being "timeless".

 

Sincerely, Carol

Edited by seagrant

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Manatee showing off!

 

This guy(or gal?) wouldn't leave me alone or let me film him until he'd had a long hard scratch on his belly. I'm normally totally against touching marine animals in any way shape or form, but he followed me around like a puppy dog for about 30 mins constantly nudging me and pushing me around and whenever I was filming another Manatee he'd try and get between us and grab all the attention. A truly magical experience :)

 

 

Thanks for the video, I sat here smiling as I watched, great job.

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Carol I think 'milking' was the wrong word, so I didn't do a very good job explaining myself very well there. I was just so shocked that there was what appeared to be a total lack of control around the sanctuary areas and SO many people. I had expected it to be busy but not 20 plus boats moored up at Three Sisters with others trying to moor up with no space to even turn around and all the time more 'organised' tours were arriving and throwing another 10-12 people into the water when it was already completely chaotic. I also saw people swim into the roped off areas and I probably saw people actively harassing Manatees on at least a dozen occasions. I know I didn't go at a good time, but it certainly showed me that something needs to be done to stop situations like that getting out of control.

 

As for the clip then I'm glad it made you all smile! :) We were in the water for over 4 hours that day and it was honestly one of those almost spiritual experiences that sometimes happen when we go diving. I was beaming like a cheshire cat for days afterwards :P When such magical encounters are still possible, it makes me so sad to see what Crystal River can be at the other extreme. I would be a hypocrite to be calling for a ban, but someone somewhere really does need to take control and policing of the situation.

 

Cheers, Simon

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Unfortunately I think the days of this type of manatee experience may be numbered, as Carol has already expressed. There are already other manatee areas in Florida that are now off-limits to the public.

It seems like the pendulum always swings from one extreme to the other and if the self-appointed 'manatee police' that frequent the area are able to document just one episode like you describe, then it may be the end of manatee encounters for all of us. And frankly, if the operators are not able to police themselves, it may be better for the manatees. It would seem that the boat operators could formulate some type of schedule that limits the number of boats and visitors, and could present some type of plan for self-regulation that would include of course private boats and visitors. Generally I'm skeptical that they can organize themselves well enough to do this. As much as I want to keep the manatee thing open for limited, reasonable, common sense interaction, if the options were no interaction or allowing scenes like Simon describes, I would have to go with no interaction, for the manatees sake.

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Hi, Carol, those are beautiful shots! I'm heading up to Crystal River this weekend. Do you have any tips to share for shooting manatees? Are you using strobes?

 

Thanks! :D

 

Hey it was great to meet you this weekend. I saw the huge camera rigs and had to ask the question "Are you from Wetpixel?" ... I hope you had safe travels back.

 

Gary Ramey

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Hey it was great to meet you this weekend. I saw the huge camera rigs and had to ask the question "Are you from Wetpixel?" ... I hope you had safe travels back.

 

Gary Ramey

 

Great to meet you too, Gary! Thanks for the tips, everyone. I did get out Fri, Sat & Sun morning with Bird's, and there were lots of people but the vis was so low that they didn't usually show up in my shots! LOL.

 

I've put up some of my shots from Fri at Main Spring, the only morning I got sunlight.

Underwater Journeys

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Great you all met and had an adventure!!

 

I've been doing manatee the last couple of days and yes the viz has been variable. It is because of weather fronts and conditions. But sites can still clear and as was stated it can be good because you just shoot close and nothing else in your pics!! :D

 

Still there are lots of manatee and Crystal River and it has been just gorgeous out, the sun returned!!

 

I did get a chance to take down my new Tokina 10-17 lens today. It was awesome and the Subal lens gear worked flawlessly. I still like my nikon 16mm and am glad I used it so much and learned to get a lot out of it but I love shooting manatee with the wider lens - what a treat!, and now I'll be able to get shots I haven't been able to before - more variety in my manatee photo collection....

 

OK, got to close tired now, it will be cold and clear again tomorrow. Let's just hope the viz clears...... As I've previously stated you don't need to take up any extra sources of gambling when you bank on shooting manatee and try to figure out the clarity of the springs at Crystal River! But manatee are lovely and mesmerizing in any light and viz I'd say....

 

Best Carol

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Great to meet you too, Gary! Thanks for the tips, everyone. I did get out Fri, Sat & Sun morning with Bird's, and there were lots of people but the vis was so low that they didn't usually show up in my shots! LOL.

 

I've put up some of my shots from Fri at Main Spring, the only morning I got sunlight.

Underwater Journeys

 

 

hmmm..you're being way too humble here. The pics I saw on that link were spectacular. The manatees with the sun rays were perfectly exposed.

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Great to meet you too, Gary! Thanks for the tips, everyone. I did get out Fri, Sat & Sun morning with Bird's, and there were lots of people but the vis was so low that they didn't usually show up in my shots! LOL.

 

I've put up some of my shots from Fri at Main Spring, the only morning I got sunlight.

Underwater Journeys

Great shots. Especially the few with the streaming sunrays- the group one in particular.

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