This is a quick and dirty edit just for fun. I've done only some basic grading. Shot on RED Epic-X, ambient, in 5K Widescreen.
I shot 830GB in Crystal River, mainly Three Sisters Spring, very well guided by expert Captain Stacy Dunn of "Manatees in Paradise".
I will go through the footage in the next months and do some serious grading.
When the water in the Gulf of Mexico becomes too cold, the Manatees seek refuge in the warmer springs of Crystal River (fresh water).
They can gather there with hundreds seeking to warm their body as their own insulation is very little.
Their skin, fat layer and muscles are only some 2 inches thick, which is extremely thin considering the animal's size (up to 1,000 pounds).
They eat 10% of their own body weight per day but, alas, have got to swim all the way back to the cold Gulf as there is hardly any food left in the springs. Manatees feed on about 60 plant species, which includes sea grasses as their major food source.
The West Indian manatee has a high casualty rate due to thermal shock from cold temperatures. During cold weather, many die due to their digestive tracts shutting down at water temperatures below 68°F (20°C). Many Manatee casualties are caused by large commercial vessels and recreational watercraft. In fact: of the hundred+ Manatees I saw, I don't remember too many without scars from propeller strikes.
Crystal River is the only human interaction zone for Manatees in the world. It attracts thousands of tourists wanting to swim with those gentle creatures and, alas, wanting to "touch" it.
Once again, mankind showed its selfish "face" by chasing, grabbing, cuddling, groups cornering a Manatee... all actions which cause the animal a lot of stress (they start squealing, but people interpret that as "cute"). These are all illegal actions. The only thing allowed is a gentle touch if the animal comes towards you.
Most likely, because of all this, the touching of Manatees and maybe the swimming with them will be prohibited in the near future.
I feel so privileged to have been able to observe and gently interact with these wonderful animals. As there are only some 4,500 West Indian Manatees left, let's hope their species can survive and become stronger again!