Day 3 in Florida and Manatee day is finally here. I was worried all night long because rain started the night before and it thundered all night long. When we got to the dock, it was still dark. Captain Mike had been watching the radar and he felt confident that the storms had moved past us. In fact, it did clear up. When the sun starting peaking over the horizon, we were treated to a beautiful rainbow. The rain stayed away until the exact moment that we pulled back into dock at the end of our tour.
We got to the dock very early so that we wouldn't have to worry about time again. When we did arrive, Captain Mike had clearly had time to dwell on what had happened the day before. He was very contrite about the problem and gave all five of us t-shirts of our choice, the kids got stuffed manatees and we got two disposable underwater cameras. We all felt much better about the screw up after receiving all of the stuff. ;)
The excursion was incredible. I really recommend it. Manatees are incredibly amazing and HUGE. They are very gentle and do not have an aggressive bone in their bodies. Some were very curious about the humans on their turf and some were a little shy.
The kids did not last very long in the water. With the combination of wearing the wetsuit, snorkels and masks (that were not their own), admonishments to NOT kick and to do the dead man float AND cool water, made it trickier for the under 12 set. I do think, in retrospect, if we had had the opportunity to let them practice getting on and off the boat, floating, not kicking and acclimating to the temperature before we reached the manatees, the outcome might have been different. However, the kids were perfectly content to watch from the boat and take pictures from above.
Alex and I were able to master being calm in the water though. ;) At our first stop, the manatees were very friendly. There was one that was particularly bothered by algae growing on her back. She was very appreciative of a good back scratching.
Our boat captain (a different Captain Mike) was an awesome tour guide. He was a certified diver and EMT, plus he had worked for NOAA as a marine biologist. We felt like we were in pretty capable hands. He recognized all of the manatees and knew their names. Joseph asked if there was a manatee named Hugh (get it? Hugh Manatee? Humanity?) and there was. Obviously, there is a marine biologist out there with a Joseph sense of humor.
The water was VERY murky because of the rain from the previous night. You can tell by how close the manatee is to the camera that I couldn't see her coming. All of a sudden there would be a manatee six inches from my face.