Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Kayaking at Salt Springs–the Manatee

Saturday December 6, 2014
Salt Springs Recreation Area Campground
Salt Springs,  Florida



We are approaching the dock at 6:45am.  The sun hasn’t come up and doesn’t.  Well you know what I mean.  We’re fogged in.  A great blue is at the dock to greet us.



I’m out on on the water before David.  We’re socked in.



It looks more clear back at the dock where David is getting ready.





Two trees I pass under along the shore are full of cormorants.   I can only see their silhouettes   The houseboat is in its spot.  No occupants to be seen.






It’s hard to see anything.  For nearly an hour we only see cormorants and this grebe.



I’m paddling along the shore.  It’s the only place you can see anything.  Paddling toward the middle is like going inside the color gray. 

I hear the unmistakable sound of a Green Heron   I’m just drifting along, no paddling.  He has his back to me so for a while he doesn’t notice me.  And then he does and he jerks around, gives me another one of those looks and zooms off.





I decide it’s time to head out into the gray.  I see nothing until I get really close and then it’s, the ducks, the cormorants…………….. and then I hear the breath. 

It’s them.  I can’t see them but I paddle in their direction.  I’m on their trail.  Eventually I see the nose.




Whoopee here they are!!



They are curious.  They come right up to the boat like they want to touch or smell it.



I whistle rather than yell for for David and when he comes they leave me and head over to him.




As if this isn’t exciting enough, there is  a mother with a calf.   How lucky can we get.



We don’t move.  They swim around us, under us.  The little calf does rolls.  It’s fabulous




Although I tried just to watch them and missed the calf roll  and some other great things, I have a BAZILLION pictures.   But you get the idea with just these.  Well no actually you don’t.  You really have to be there to watch a huge manatee glide gracefully under your boat and come out the other side.   To see them head away and then turn their giant selves on a dime and come back.





Eventually they swim off and I stay a while to see if they will return.  We’ve seen several other manatee as well and they all seem to be heading from the spring run out into the river probably for breakfast.

Then I hear the breathing again and use my paddles to go in that direction.   I am moving along when three of them rise up just in front of me.  A kayak has no brakes.  My boat slides over them but scares them and they do their hump up dive down slap tail routine and get me soaked.  I feel really badly that there was no way I could stop.  I scared them.  Unintentional manatee harassment.  I feel terrible.   No wonder the motor boats scar their backs.  I sure wish they would just outlaw motorboats in manatee territory.   At least I did them no harm other than fright.

My camera got sprayed as well so rather than stay in the water longer I head for the shore to dry the camera off and go back for dry clothes. Too bad David didn’t get a picture.

Boy am I sorry about this.  I would have loved to stay with them for as long as they’d have me if I hadn’t scared them.

Hope they’ll forgive me.   I sure had a great time.

I apologize to those who were hoping to learn a lot about this area during our stay.  We had intended to stay a week when we couldn’t get week long reservations at Disney World but then I was able to get 3 nights so we took them. Thus our stay is very abbreviated but did enable David to get the infusions he needed.

I do have previous posts about the Ocala National Forest and all there is to do here.  If you use my search bar and put in Salt Springs, they should all come up.  We will for sure be back here for a longer period of time to get in a lot more hiking and kayaking both here and at  Alexander and Juniper Springs which are also in the forest.  December is a good time to come.

The rest of the day we spend listening to our pretty good country music and gospel singing neighbors while getting things ready to head out early Sunday for Disneyworld.  At the price of those passes you want to get every minute you can.   See you at the kingdom the mice built.



  1. Sometimes the mouse must win :) Absolutely love the manatee noses! I'm surprised how they don't seem to be too afraid of your kayaks, but yet startle easily. Lucky you didn't get rolled over too.

  2. I would have loved to be in that kayak with you despite the water spray. Cool experience! I think they'll forgive you for the scare.

  3. That was a great experience with the manatee. We loved our time with them there as well. Shame you had to cut it short, but you can say you were drenched by a Manatee;o)) Have fun and a Happy Birthday at Disney!!

  4. Those are fabulous photos even if it was foggy. Have a wonderful time at Disney. We were just talking about going soon ourselves! Love your segues and writings!

  5. OMG! So exciting to have them so near. What an absolute thrill. Enjoy Disney.

  6. What great pictures of the green heron! That was a great sighting. And, the manatee - that is wonderful that they are so big and will just swim peacefully around you and not "rock" the kayak. I think they'll forgive the scare; they gave you something in return - a soak! So...maybe you're even? Despite the fog - such a special paddle - so glad the manatee were there for you to see :)

  7. Well, you had a good encounter with the mama and her calf. Too bad about the others though. I agree about outlawing motorboats in areas with manatees.

  8. What a close encounter. Beautiful shots of those gorgeous animals!

  9. Great Heron pic and you had a fun close time with the Manatees also. Hope you enjoy Mouse Land and may the crowds still be gone. We spent today in Universal Studios Diagon Alley of Harry Potter fame. They did a grand job of that place.

    Email me if you would like us to meet you in Disney. We go there often and love it.

  10. oh wonderful, just wonderful, and knowing you, I can only imagine how sad you were to have scared the manatees. But, just like happens when we get startled, it doesn't mean we are scared forever, just startled. So no damage, I am sure, unlike those boats with propellers. Looking forward to doing this myself someday.

  11. great day. . .you guys are like the energizer bunny. . .going, going, going! Have fun. . .

  12. Wow, how lucky were you! I love manatees so much, they are so sweet and gentle and to see them up so close and personal is amazing. I love photos when it is foggy out, we know we have had our share of hikes in foggy weather. Enjoy Disney World.


  13. The Green Herron is great! You bring great memories of our Manatee sightings.....not as exciting as your photos though.

  14. How wonderful that you saw the manatees -- you always seem to have such great good fortune in communing with them. They must know you're an advocate for them. :-)

  15. Fun day in the kayaks. Love the pictures with the manatees. And the fog looks interesting in the water.

  16. I find that it can be a little frightening being on the water when it's so foggy. At least it was for us when we were far offshore in the boat. I wondered if you were startled when you heard that familiar manatee breath? You had a wonderful manatee encounter. I love the youngsters. They act like puppies and are so fun to play with.

    Don't feel bad about gliding over the manatee. You didn't hurt them and maybe it was a good lesson for them to watch out for boats in the future. Have fun at Disney.

  17. Have a great time at Disney! I was looking at the Ft. Wilderness map last week. Which loop do you prefer?
    Bob and I are thinking that might be our first extended stop when we become fulltimers since we have to go to Florida anyway.

    Wonderful paddle with the manatees. I am sure you have been forgiven.

  18. "....like going inside the color gray." Wonderful. I love that it was foggy - your own little world with just the two of you and the manatees - couldn't be more perfect. I got a little teary at the sound of the first breath and then mama bringing her little one over to visit......and was immediately touched by the blessing you knew you were sharing. I agree with Karen that a little bump with a kayak is more good than bad if it teaches them to be cautious of those that might have blades at the other end. Sad but true.
    Although I much prefer the peacefulness and beauty of your walks and paddles, I find myself very excited about visiting the house of the mouse with you two :-)

  19. So special! I hope we'll be able to see some Manatee while were out paddling on of these times. Have a nice birthday!

  20. Kayaking with the manatee is great fun. We got to kayak with them last winter while in Florida. They are so graceful and gentle. But looking at all those scars on their backs is really difficult. You got so many amazing photos. How nice that you were all alone with them:) Enjoy Disney!!

  21. I don't know which I'd enjoy my more, paddling with manatees or WDW. I guess I'll just have to do both!

    Great job getting Fort Wilderness reservations this time of year at short notice, that is nothing short of a miracle!

  22. Loved the manatee noses. Is it safe to kayak in the area in inflatable kayaks or would one need to rent hard kayaks? Man it would be a huge adjustment going from the serenity of the springs to WDW. Not sure I could adjust at all. Haven' been to a WD attraction since 1970's. Oh how I hate crowds.

  23. I think the manatee will forgive you! You meant no harm and maybe they needed their back scratched. Loved you mentioning Juniper Springs. Many fond memories of camping there as a child. My sister and I spent hours in the wonderful spring fed pool. Sure wish we could've worked it out to be at Disney at the same time. That would've been fun.

  24. Looks like a great time with the manatee, I'm sure they've forgiven you for scaring them. Have a great time at WDW.


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