The Gentle Giants

Earlier this month, I traveled to Crystal River, Florida to capture the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatees) with underwater photo gear – essentially a underwater housing for my Canon 5D Mark III.  Following are a few of the photographic results from the trip plus some interesting manatee facts. Enjoy!

Canon EOS 5D Mark III in AquaTech underwater housing, Canon 14mm f/2.8, 1/125 second @ f/8, ISO 800

Manatee Fact #1: Sailors once believed these animals to be sirens from the deep, mythical mermaids coming to call. This certainly says less about the manatee’s obvious sex appeal (they are pretty cute, aren’t they?) and more about – well, how do I put this politely –  the sailors’ loneliness and desperation for companionship after being at sea too long.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III in AquaTech underwater housing, Canon 14mm f/2.8, 1/320 second @ f/8, ISO 800

Manatee Fact #2: Manatees cannot survive for long in water colder than 60 degrees F (15C). For this reason, they seek out warm water springs in to seek refuge from the frigid Gulf of Mexico during the winter months.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III in AquaTech underwater housing, Canon 14mm f/2.8, 1/30 second @ f/11, ISO 800

Manatee Fact #3: The manatee’s closest living relative is the elephant. By their appearance alone, I thought this to be a somewhat obvious fact but apparently it has something to do with the number of fingernails both species possess.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III in AquaTech underwater housing, Canon 14mm f/2.8, 1/125 second @ f/11 ISO 800

Manatee Fact #4: Manatees have no natural predators. The biggest hazard they encounter are the props from motor boats which has lead to them being included on the endangered species list.

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| 9 Comments
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9 Comments

  1. Posted January 21, 2014 at 6:40 pm by David Johnston | Permalink

    Those are great shots. I’m guessing a fast shutter wasn’t necessary? They’re pretty slow

  2. Posted January 21, 2014 at 6:42 pm by Richard Bernabe | Permalink

    They’re not exactly fast-moving creatures, so no.

  3. Posted January 21, 2014 at 6:52 pm by Mark Myhaver | Permalink

    These are wonderful creatures and you have captured them fabulously, Richard.

  4. Posted January 22, 2014 at 12:37 am by Jerry Alt | Permalink

    Great images. I assume you snorkeled and shot these from underwater, as opposed to lowering your camera into the water from the boat?? You got some good natural light in the shallows.

    • Posted January 22, 2014 at 8:22 am by Richard Bernabe | Permalink

      Yup, getting in the wear with them is the only way to go. Great photo opportunities and a great experience as a whole.

  5. Posted January 22, 2014 at 5:52 am by Jeff Sinon | Permalink

    Great photos Richard. Looks like the first one is smiling for the camera. And now you’ve added something else to my photographic “bucket list.”

  6. Posted January 22, 2014 at 8:59 am by Linda House | Permalink

    Oh my gosh, these shots made me cry…in a good way. You captured these special animals so beautifully.

  7. Posted January 29, 2014 at 6:54 pm by Linda | Permalink

    Wow! Hope I can photograph these great creatures soon since I live so close.

  8. Posted February 15, 2014 at 6:02 pm by RH | Permalink

    I remember going to Homosassa Springs often as a child and watching their captive manatees in wonder. Lovely group of images of these unusual mammals.

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