Went to Crystal River this afternoon, Thursday, October 9, 2008. Spent about four hours on, and in the water. In at Three Sisters Springs and King Spring. The snapper in the above photo are from King Spring. No manatees in the springs. I think I saw one out in Kings Bay as I made my way to the canal leading to Three Sisters. A broad, smooth shape, likely a manatee's back briefly surfacing between the waves. It was windy and very choppy on Kings Bay as I began my paddle about 3:20, launching from the asphalt ramp between Charlie's Seafood and Birds Underwater. I hoped once I got in the canals, conditions would improve wind wise. They did, but it was still windy enough that I retrieved a life jacket that had blown off a dock in the Magnolia Springs canal. The homeowners were grateful.
I arrived at the entrance to Three Sisters, a rental pontoon anchored nearby. I paddled in between the barricades that keep out anything wider than a kayak, canoe , swimmer or manatee. Seven people, were in or near the Springs; two scuba divers, two kayakers, and three folks on land, likely the owner and guests. The owner had intentions of developing the property, but now is prepared to sell the site so it will be preserved. A lot have folks have contributed, including me. http://www.savethreesisters.org/donate.html
I anchored the kayak, donned snorkel, mask, fins and began to explore. My old camera fits in the underwater housing. The view screen doesn't work and the SD45o does not have an underwater mode. Photos are hit and miss, mostly miss. One photo of 16 is Yak Tales worthy.
Sea grasses flowing from spring vents. I was in the Sisters over a half hour, most of that time alone, the other visitors left. I saw mullet, sunfish, bass, some better than a foot long, a huge snapping turtle. I had more views of an underwater anhinga then ever before. Snapped plenty of photos, no results. It sprinkled lightly as I snorkeled, but stopped before I got back in the yak.
Out of the canal back to Kings Bay, weather greatly improved. I headed south, past Buzzard Island towards Banana Island and King Spring, the largest in Crystal River. A houseboat anchored nearby, but I saw no signs of life on or near it. Two guys fishing from a boat off the Island. I anchored near shore, something I won't be able to do November 15, when the seasonal manatee refuge goes into effect, and snorkeled out to the Spring.
It's a good thing the spring is marked with buoys with an orange float in the middle, or it would be easy to miss. No boil, or slick on the surface. One needs to dive through the top layer to see the immense opening, limestone walls rising from deep in the bay. Schools of snapper, a few sheepshead. The camera wasn't working. I swam back to the yak, took it out of the case, jiggled the battery, got it working, snorkeled back to the Spring. As with Three Sisters, one good picture, the snapper in the first photo. Back above water in the kayak, I paddled around Warden Key and some other, unnamed islands hoping to spot a manatee or two. I saw none, other than the one I may have seen earlier. I did see a bald eagle, soaring north across the Bay. Other birds spotted were blue, great blue herons, great egrets, belted kingfishers, Canadian geese, cormorants, anhingas, and vultures. Again picture quality poor, this osprey being the "best".
At least I got a picture of the landing.