Manatee are those teddy bears of the sea. Rotund, gentle sea-cows that everyone loves to be around -- an unfortunate thing, for the manatees. We've written about the plight of Florida's manatees in the past -- images from photographer Rebecca Jackrel show the beauty of the creatures as well as the dangers they face in trying to rest in a river visited by so many people, including people who are there specifically to see the manatees.
Conservation photographer Cristina Mittermeier points out that the "love" we have for manatees is also a source of trouble for the species. The animals come to Crystal River Springs as a refuge during the winter. It is a place for them to rest and conserve energy in warm waters. But with so little protection from the many people pressing in on them -- including touching, riding, and otherwise harassing them, not to mention the injuries they sustain from boat propellers slicing into them as they sit just below the water's surface -- our desire to be near them is preventing them from getting that much needed rest.
Here, in a timelapse video made by Mittermeier and fellow photographer Neil Ever Osborne, you can see just how much interaction the manatees are forced to deal with all day, every day. You'll even see a manatee stampede, which happens when a sudden loud noise onshore scares them. Mittermeier states that this happens several times a day. The video reveals just how little space manatees get for themselves, and how much more protection we need to be offering these animals who are, we cannot forget, members of an endangered species.