Manatee and Rainbow River Report - Pensacola Fishing Forum

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Old 02-01-2009, 10:11 PM   #1
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Default Manatee and Rainbow River Report

Made the 7 hr trip down to Crystal River, FL in two days w/ a pit stop in Tallahassee for a night of drinking and dinner with a buddy's folks. Arrived at the combination diveshop and Days Inn late Friday afternoon and took as troll down to the shop to checkout the operation. Met our captains for the morning and spent a couple of hours just talking about the boats, wildlife, business and any other kind of BS one can talk. After and atrocious dinner at a restraunt called Oysters (NEVER GO THERE: smallest portions, rudest service and outrageous prices; even with the 10% discount from the hotel, that they tried to weasel their way out of) we turned in for the night with out alarms set for 6:30am. After watching a short film on Manatee Manners we loaded up and were on site at about 8:00 and were in the water by 8:15 after another hilarious crash course on the proper way to approach, pet and disengage the local celeberities. The marine life present at this warm water spring located in an isolated but developed bay was amazing. I personally encountered 5 different manatees with 3 being on a one-on-one basis and loved every second of it. The gentle and seemingly intelligent way these animals behave is amazing. They are very open to human encounters and actually initiate a lot of them. However, a lot of the the encounters were abruptly ended by loud and obnoxious, disrespectful fellow snorkelers that are enough to drive one to blows; especially a group of especially loud and ignorant Japanese tourists that were borderline harassing these gentle giants. Besides manatees there were plenty of snook, with a couple of monsters hanging around and even a tarpon cruising around. We also were rewarded with several Bald Eagle sightings. After the snorkel we were handed hot coa-coa and sandwiches by our captains; as we set course for home our discussion was of the legislation in the works that may damage the level of interaction allowed between humans and manatees. While i do feel that there needs to be a way of limiting the abrasive tourists it is obvious that the manatees do enjoy these encounters, as made apparent by there unwillingness to let us leave. Our operation seemed to be a cut above the rest with their knowledge and love for these great animals, they voiced plans of trying to set the standard for other operations with the knowledge of their staff and by selling there large boat , which we were on, and getting another 6 passenger to help limit the volume of people on site. We finished the day with a drift dive on Rainbow River that was great in its own rights with its crystal clear spring fed waters and lots of bass, gar, bream and blue gill, but not nearly as inspiring and magnificent as my time with the manatees. If you have been thinking of going and having your own encounter, do not hesitate anymore, once I looked into the deep, deep blue eyes of these magnificent mammals it was the most spiritual moment of my underwater career.

Here are some photos I took and also some taken by another guy on our trip named Barry.

The whole crew freezing on the way out:



One of my one-on-one encounters





A manatee that was reluctant to see us go, and folllowed us to the boat so we got back in
for another go.





Some of the gorgeous waters seen on the way to and from the site.



A good friend and new diver named Steven "Bingo" Bingert being trailed by a Mr. Larry Bryant



3/4 of our dive group (from L to R) Larry, Bingo, Myself, Todd Stannard and the last but
certainly not least Mr. Barry behind the camera.



Grass Beds w/ some beded bass



One of the larger of the several springs that feed the river



All in all it was great trip, worth every penny and second behind the wheel. A special thanks to Bay Breeze, Craig Bryce, Barry Shivley and the West Florida Dive Clubfor organizing this trip, and another thanks to Barry for the great pictures he took.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:57 AM   #2
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Default RE: Manatee and Rainbow River Report

Thats great man Ialways wanted to do a manatee dive. I saw the sign on the Bay Breeze marquee but just can't convince myself to don a wetsuit this time of year. Are they planning on making that trip regularly? I'll have to do it next time even if it is cold. Thanks for the post and the pictures.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:07 AM   #3
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Default RE: Manatee and Rainbow River Report

Great report ! Makes me want to go today ! What was the water temp ? how much was the trip? Thanks Chad
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:36 AM   #4
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Default RE: Manatee and Rainbow River Report

The old Holiday Inn canal! My old stomp'n grounds. The Day's Inn use to be the Holiday Inn. That use to be crystal clear water down that canal.At the Day's Inn dock that big lagoon use to be a spring. Now you have to go all the way up into the bay to see clean water.





Did you get to go up into 3 sisters springs around the corner from the main springs near port paradise?
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Old 02-02-2009, 09:04 AM   #5
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Default RE: Manatee and Rainbow River Report

That looks like the Mantee I saw hanging around at Pensacola Pass and in the ICW !!!!
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Old 02-02-2009, 09:41 AM   #6
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Default RE: Manatee and Rainbow River Report

Quote:
BananaTom (2/2/2009)That looks like the Mantee I saw hanging around at Pensacola Pass and in the ICW !!!!
Naaaw, we don't have manatees this far north or we'd have MANATEE ZONES and since we don't want those, we don't SEE ANYYYYTHIIIING..
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Old 02-02-2009, 09:43 AM   #7
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Default RE: Manatee and Rainbow River Report

Awesome pictures! thanks for sharing
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Old 02-02-2009, 09:22 PM   #8
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Default RE: Manatee and Rainbow River Report

As of now I don't think that we are going to make it regular but I may run that by the boss b/c i really enjoyed it! We are going to start running group trips pretty regularly now. The water was 72 degrees on both dives and I was plenty comfortable in just a full 3mm, so really it was not that bad. It was, however, 28 degrees that morning and I was freezing my

nads off until I got into the water!!!:banghead
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Old 02-03-2009, 04:42 PM   #9
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Default RE: Manatee and Rainbow River Report

Way cool !!!!!!!! Thanks for posting.

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Old 02-06-2009, 11:30 PM   #10
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Default RE: Manatee and Rainbow River Report

Are manatee hard to clean? Or is it easier with an electric filet knife?

Just kiddin...looks like you had ablast Curty!
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