ASIA DIVE EXPO
(ADEX 2015, 2019 SPEAKER)
Photos by Ellen Cuylaerts & Stephen Frink
ASIA DIVE EXPO
(ADEX 2017, 2019 SPEAKER)
Every autumn, the West Indian manatees living at the Gulf Coast and the Florida coast find shelter in the Floridian springs (20–21 degrees Celsius) when the water temperatures drop. Large plant-eating marine mammals, manatees help ensure vegetative balance in ecosystems and their health serves as an indicator of overall marine and ecological well-being. The World Wildlife Fund is working to seek legal protection for these animals using protected area frameworks. Manatees are susceptible to cold, as it affects their digestive system and they can die from cold shock. Their biggest threats are boat propellers or collisions, cold, red tides, habitat loss (i.e., loss of springs), and loss of food (i.e., seagrass beds) due to pollutants.
These images were taken at Crystal River, Florida on a very cold day. While the adults were very slow, preserving energy by not swimming too far for food, the calves, who were still being fed by their mothers, were playful and curious, making for great photo opportunities.
ABOVE: West indian manatees were once listed as Endangered and numbered in the hundreds, but conservation efforts have lifted the status to Vulnerable by: Ellen CuylaertsWHENJanuary 2015WHEREGulf Coast and Florida coast, USAHOW Nicon D800, 16mm lens (f/13, 1/160s, ISO 400)