Swimming with Manatees

Katey Batavia & Ellen Maher in their wetsuits and ready to board the pontoon boat.

Swimming with Manatees

During the summer, manatees

wander widely in warm seas.

Manatees throw fall and winter parties

in warm springs near seventy degrees.

Hundreds of manatees socialize in Kings Bay

near Three Sisters Springs on November days.

These marine mammals enjoy each other’s company.

They don’t compete for territory.

Vegetarians, they live on sea grass…

How peacefully, how gracefully their days pass!

Nursing calves swim beside their mothers.

They have no predators, no fear of others.

Though manatees bear the scars

of encounters with boat propellers,

they still seek humans as their playmates.

Snuggles and belly rubs are appreciated.

As I climbed down the boat ladder,

a manatee waited in the water.

A thousand pounds of curiosity

and sweet manatee eyes greeted me.

The moment we came face to face,

I knew there was hope for the human race.

At that moment it was clear to me

that people could learn from manatees.

How happy life would be

if we could live in harmony

with nature and our fellow creatures.

Manatees are charming teachers!

A friendly manatee. g7b148…-Suo02Vj
Ellen meets a manatee at Three Sisters Springs in Kings Bay, Crystal River, Florida. DCIM\100GOPRO\GOPR0196.JPG
A manatee asked Katey for a pat. Note the harmless algae growing on the manatee’s back. DCIM\100GOPRO\GOPR0250.JPG
Time for my belly rub, Katey! DCIM\100GOPRO\GOPR0156.JPG
Cheryl. Photo by Katey.

West Indian Manatees

West Indian Manatees are endangered marine mammals whose closest relatives are elephants. They require a minimum water temperature of sixty-eight degrees. Interestingly, they have no front teeth, only molars for chewing tough sea grass. They swim gracefully at speeds up to 20 miles per hour. At 1,000 to 1,200 pounds, they have no natural enemies, but many are injured by propellers of fast-moving boats. Boaters can protect manatees by observing posted speed limits in manatee areas.

Personnel at Kings Bay in Crystal River tag and monitor injured manatees. They are transported to a manatee rescue center in Homosassa Springs for rehabilitation if they are unable to recover on their own.

Florida has numerous hot springs where manatees spend the Fall and Winter months. Kings Bay has a constant year-round temperature of sixty-eight degrees and some manatees are year-round residents there. Other springs may be a little warmer, about seventy-two degrees.

When you swim with the manatees, you are instructed not to disturb resting manatees. As you would get to know a strange cat, you should let them approach you. Ellen had a manatee hug her arm. A manatee wanted Katey to pet it and give it a belly rub. One manatee swam up against me, and another manatee put its nose against my mask and gazed into my eyes. These are moments we will always remember!

Manatees have been called “sea cows” because they graze on sea grass and other aquatic plants. Very lonely mariners in the early days are said to have mistaken them for mermaids. There is another species of manatee in Africa.

CopyrightΒ© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

For more information about swimming with manatees and boat tours, you can contact:




  1. Your gorgeous beautifully captured the the wonderful event of nature intermingling with humans… truly a fabulous occasion Cheryl, and your pic’s are superb .. your article has made my day … πŸ’›πŸŒπŸ¬πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people


  2. wow oh wow what an amazing experience! Great shots, delightful poem and a great education Cheryl … I’ve never met a manatee πŸ™‚

    But I’ve had some incredible moments with whales … even bigger gentle giants πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Kate, thank you so much for your kind response. It makes me happy that you enjoyed the post. ❀ It must have been truly amazing to see whales up close! I have only seen them in documentaries. My daughter Ellen had a recording of awesome whale songs when she was young. I would really like to hear more about your experiences with whales, and I think a lot of people would be interested in that. Maybe you could do a post about them.

      Dolphins follow boats here and sometimes come up to you when you are swimming. Groups of dolphins frequently visit a beach near here and put on impromptu performances for people walking on the jetty. Dolphins are delightful, but I was totally unprepared for how much interaction there was with manatees. It is incredible that all of these marine mammals still seem to love humans after all we have done to harm them.

      Hope you have an enjoyable weekend! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person


      1. I have posted about the dolphins in the river out front and on my coastal walks … then in the comments chatted about my whale experiences … they were many moons ago with no photographic proof. Just endearing memories that warm my heart.

        So very glad you had the experience, we all need to get to know each other better …

        Liked by 1 person

      1. “I wonder if the manatees were the authors of the Golden rule. They certainly put it into practice! ” Very much! And, it is now time to ‘turn back to the manatees’ irrespective of how much we may have ‘progressed’!😊

        Thank you so much for the kind response.❀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Cheryl, what a wonderful post about manatees. They are such gentle creatures and much can be learned from them. Thank you for sharing the photos and your poetic account about manatees. πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Thank you, Maggie for your kind comment! We had a wonderful time. I certainly would recommend swimming with the manatees and many other Florida attractions. I have lived in Florida since 1995. If I can provide any information, I would be happy to do that. ❀ Have a great week!



      1. Thank you! We tried to see them jn Belize but the water was too mirky. I assumed they would always be in water with such poor conditions but you showed us where to go 😊 I’ll keep you in mind if/when we travel to Florida. Thanks for the offer! Maggie

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful experience you had, Cheryl. Amazing pics substantiate it. The last stanza of the poem is awesome. Thank you for introducing to manatees or sea cow. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Thank you so much, Pragalbha, for your kind response. ❀ It was an awesome experience, especially being there with my daughters whom I hadn't seen for almost two years. I was not expecting such affection and playfulness from Manatees. I have definitely become a fan! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person


  5. Thank you, Scott, for your kind response. ❀ I am happy that you enjoyed the post. My daughters and I had a delightful experience we will never forget! I was not expecting manatees to be so friendly and playful! πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend!



  6. Thank you so much, David, for your kind comment! ❀ It was an unforgettable experience! Every time I think of it I will remember how peace-loving and friendly manatees are. πŸ™‚ I hope you are having an enjoyable Hanukkah! Regards to your family. ❀



  7. Love your up close and personal shots and pics with your girls! Beautiful pictures shared of the Manatees Cheryl! What an incredible experience and you’re so right.. we could learn from them and should!!πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ™



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