We found a place to stay and began the ritual of setting up the motorhome. We were fortunate to meet a couple in the campground, they were just leaving Crystal River and had so much information to share with us.
Mrs. Neighbor was "all about" Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge ( Crystal River NWR) and Mr. Neighbor was all about "FREE" viewing of the manatee. We were given two locations to see the manatee by the neighbors. I have to admit each location had their own uniqueness. Mrs. Neighbor was excited about the scenic boat ride to the location of the birds, fish, bear, (is this sounding like a zoo? yes it is, with manatee) But I wanted to see them in their own habitat and interacting with each other. Mr. Neighbor was "right on target"!
We followed Mrs. recommendation as well as Mr.'s.
Florida's bottle brush trees.
Osprey nest, The Osprey is the only hawk on the continent that eats almost exclusively live fish. In North America, more than 80 species of live fresh- and saltwater fish account for 99 percent of the Osprey’s diet. Wonderful facts about the osprey (click)
Crystal River NWR and it was a fantastic adventure.
Time to see the manatee in the wild. The NWR was closing but she suggested we walk out to the pier and watch the divers swimming with the manatee and then go up the road to the first little bridge in a residential area, park on the side of the road and walk to the railing; wait and watch. We were not there 5 minutes and here they come!! So quiet, so beautiful, so close to the top of the water!! OMG , where is my camera!! The manatees are just under the surface of the water and their snout is out to inhale and exhale; so worth the drive!!
The Wildlife Park Ranger told us the manatee eat equivalent to 10% of their body weight every day. They are fed heads of lettuce by the park but in the wild they eat grasses. A lady next to me wanted to know how they got so fat eating just greens? (I wanted to say "I think its the ranch dressing, I have the same problem")
See the shadow in the lower left? My phone camera did not capture the manatees but they captured my heart!!