These creatures are immensely special. It was such a privilege to observe and even interact with the manatee in Crystal River, Florida.
Although, I’m torn about how I feel about people swimming with them, as this has become increasingly popular in recent years.
On the one hand, I think it connects humans to animals, and thereby increases empathy and compassion for these incredibly special creatures. On the other hand, I think we should leave them alone (at least in the masses), or at the very least have an incredible and immense respect for them when visiting their home underwater by observing them more than touching. It’s important to be incredibly quiet out there on the water. This is where they are nursing and feeding.
Yesterday I watched humans pet manatees that are nursing their calves, or petting sleeping manatees. I don’t believe this is necessary, or even wanted by the manatees. It’s absolutely incredible just to watch them.
Let them come to you for interaction and touch, but please don’t chase them if you choose to visit their home. It’s illegal to chase them, but people do it anyway. They are incredibly curious and playful creatures. Please respect them in their natural habitat. It’s a privilege to be there.
Try not talking when you’re out there with them in their territory. It’s beautiful to be quiet for awhile with these beautiful creatures in a simple paradise. I hope it remains that way.
They deserve our protection. We are their guardians.
According to animal symbology, manatees are symbols of peace and non-violence. Instead of talking, try listening to the manatee when you’re out there, with your eyes and your heart. Listen to the quietness of the manatee compared to the loudness of humans. Maybe we can be more like the manatee. I believe they have much to teach us.
Photos and words by Amber Sigman