Doug Cook’s Website for Scuba Diving Adventures

and Underwater Photography



The manatee or sea cow is an endangered species in the Caribbean area.  It is found around the coast of Florida where its main enemy is boats whose propellers gouge the docile vegetarian animals that may be swimming just below the surface. The manatee can grow to 10 to 12 feet long and up to 1800 pounds. In the colder months of winter they congregate in warmer inland waters, especially at Crystal River north of Tampa, Florida.  At Crystal River, the large King Spring feeds at a relatively warm 73 deg F flow of water pure Floridan aquifer water into the river.  Manatees enjoy this water and the abundant floating water hyacinth.  Hold a bunch of this and you will have them eating out of your hand!


I left Key Largo in 1982 with Elizabeth to go to the University of Florida Graduate School in Gainesville. Crystal River and other nearby springs became our recreation focus as a surrogate for the reefs of Key Largo.




Boater’s warning in Crystal River


Elizabeth exploring King Spring

Elizabeth exploring King Spring



Some manatee are fitted with radio tracking devices attached to their tails.  You can see the floating antennas and the noses of docile manatee just above the surface.


The radio tracking harness on a boat propeller scarred tail.


The manatee’s closest relative is the elephant.




The manatees at Crystal River are friendly to divers but they have a roped off restricted area to go to keep from being harassed by too many people.


Gentle loving creatures.


Mother and baby.


Crystal River is a fertile garden for the vegetarian manatee.