Kayak with the Manatees!
Tours offer viewing without disrupting natural behavior

Biologist Matt Clemons spots a manatee
“Our manatee tours are conducted with a hands-off approach,” says biologist Matt Clemons of Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company. “We believe that wild animals need to stay wild and the true ecotourist looks, but does not touch.” (Photo by Steve Kingery)


Beginning in October and running through April 2010, Save the Manatee Club (SMC) is promoting kayak tours to see manatees. 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 will help 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.

Snorty the manatee
(Top) Matt Clemons points out interesting flora and fauna to tour participants. (Bottom) A manatee checks out a kayaker. (Photos courtesy Bryan Krantz and Matt Clemons)

This year marks the first time Save the Manatee Club has promoted more tours over a longer time period. “The kayak tours have proven to be very popular and usually fill up fast,” says Patrick M. Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “In past years, we have only offered 12 tours, but our expanded partnership with Aardvark’s will give members more options to fit into their busy schedule.”

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.

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.”

"We LOVED our kayak tour to see manatees!" said SMC members Salvatore and Susan Lepore. "It's a memory that we'll treasure forever! (Photo courtesy Susan Lepore)

The cost of each tour is $40 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 10 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! 

Please contact:

Aardvark’s Florida Kayak Company
707 N Citrus Avenue, Suite A
Crystal River, Fl 34428
Web: www.floridakayakcompany.com
Phone: 352-795-5650
Email: info@FloridaKayakCompany.com

SMC member Amie G. and her dad pause to take a break during the kayak tour. "We enjoyed it thoroughly and seeing the manatees without disturbing them was a real honor," says Amie. (Photo courtesy Amie G.)



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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 >>


More Opportunities to See Manatees
Be sure to visit Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park before or after your kayak tour. The park, which is located approximately 10 miles south of Crystal River, is home to five manatees in Save the Manatee Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee program. The park also features educational programs on manatees throughout the day as well as an underwater viewing room where you can see the manatees and listen to manatee sounds.
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