Manatee News

Kayak With The Manatees!

Tours offer viewing without disrupting natural behavior

Two kayakers enter Three Sisters Springs
A manatee shows off with a barrel roll close to the kayak of a lucky ecotour participant. The ecotours offer an alternative way to view manatees without disrupting their natural behavior. (Photo courtesy Matt Clemons, Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company)

Itís that time of the year again! Kayak tours to see manatees are beginning in October and running through April 2013. The ecotours, which are offered by Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company in Crystal River, provide an alternative way to view manatees without disrupting their natural behavior. Participation in the ecotours helps protect manatees as well. Ten percent of each tour booked by a Save the Manatee Club member will go toward the Club’s manatee conservation efforts.

Crystal River/Kings Bay is the winter home to hundreds of manatees. When the weather cools down, manatees gather at natural springs such as those found in the Crystal River area. Each kayak trip will start with a brief education session on manatees as well as basic kayaking tips. Then it’s time to begin a trip paddling through the waters of Crystal River. Along the way, you’ll get a chance to view manatees in the wild and learn about the local flora and fauna.

A manatee is spotted while kayaking.
A curious manatee approaches a kayak. (Photo courtesy Matt Clemons, Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company)

The manatee kayak tours are led by Matt and Sue Clemons, owners of Aardvark’s Florida Kayak Company. Matt is a wildlife biologist with several years of experience conducting manatee research, and Sue is a former park ranger. Matt is also a member of Save the Manatee Club’s Board of Directors. “Our manatee tours are conducted with a hands-off approach,” says Matt. “We believe that wild animals need to stay wild and the true ecotourist looks, but does not touch.”

Participants are often thrilled and enthusiastic about their experience on the kayak ecotours. "I just wanted to thank you for your recommendation of Aardvark tours in Crystal River, Florida," wrote one tour participant. "My daughter has adopted three manatees and has wanted to visit Florida to take a manatee tour for some time. We went on our tour and managed to see several manatees and experience them in a respectful educational way. Sue was our guide and was wonderful. It was a great way to experience the manatees without being disruptive or disrespectful." And Leah and Warren Kane wrote, "In case people were wondering how close the manatees come to your kayaks, well, they come pretty close! We had a great time on our trip and hope to do it again sometime."

Snorty the manatee
A manatee surfaces to give a surprised kayaker a gentle nudge. (Photo courtesy Matt Clemons, Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company)


Please contact:
Aardvark’s Florida Kayak Company
707 N Citrus Avenue, Suite A
Crystal River, FL 34428
Phone: 352-795-5650

The cost of each tour is $45 per person and includes an experienced guide, kayak, paddle, and life jacket. Each tour typically runs about three hours long. Kayaking experience is not required and beginners are welcome. 

Participants should book their tour directly through Aardvark’s Florida Kayak Company. Those tour participants who identify themselves as Save the Manatee Club members will receive a free “I Love Manatees” sticker, a 20 percent discount coupon for SMC’s manatee gift catalog or for SMC T-shirts sold in Aardvark’s store, and a 20% off discount coupon to see manatees just down the road at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, Florida.

Tour participants are responsible for all travel, hotel, meals, and other expenses. Once you sign up, Matt and Sue will provide a list of area hotels. Reservations are required, so book your tour today and be sure to say you are a Save the Manatee Club member! 

Biologist Matt Clemons spots a manatee
Biologist Matt Clemons of Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company (at bottom right in the red kayak) and his ecotour group stop to view manatees gathered at a warm water spring during a chilly winter day. “We believe that wild animals need to stay wild and the true ecotourist looks, but does not touch,” says Matt. (Photo © David R. Schrichte)

Get More Info!

Buy a Swift Paddle and Help Manatees
Swift Manatee Paddle

When you purchase an Eddyline Swift Paddle that features their beautiful manatee design, Eddyline Kayaks will donate $15 of the purchase price to Save the Manatee Club's manatee protection efforts. You can purchase the paddle at Aardvark's or the Eddyline web site. (To order, select "Manatee" from the Fabric drop down box.) To see a larger photo of the paddle, click on the following link and select "Manatee."