Florida’s Friendly Manatees Photographed By Alexander Mustard

Snorkellers approach an adult manatee at Three Sisters Spring, Crystal River, Florida. You might imagine that coming face to face with one of these enormous underwater mammals would cause some concern. However, the likelihood is that the rotund creature just wants you to scratch its belly while it floats around happily, as world-renowned underwater photographer Alex Mustard discovered. (Photo by Alexander Mustard/Barcroft Media)

Alex travelled to the west coast of Florida, close to Crystal River city, in February, where the animals congregate in the winter. Here, several freshwater springs attract the manatees when their normal ocean habitat becomes too cold. (Photo by Alexander Mustard/Barcroft Media)

On a cold evening, large numbers of manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostrus) gather in Three Sisters Spring for the night. (Photo by Alexander Mustard/Barcroft Media)

“Manatees live life at a slow pace, so when you swim with them you are forced to chill down to their speed”, explained the 36-year-old from Hampshire. “They’re just floating about in a sort of zen state. Then, when they come up to you and want you to scratch them, it is so exciting you get a real connection”. (Photo by Alexander Mustard/Barcroft Media)

A group of manatees wallow in shallow water in Crystal River. (Photo by Alexander Mustard/Barcroft Media)

After so many years capturing the underwater beauty of some of the world’s most exotic destinations, Alex says it is the waters around Britain which excite him the most. “Our own seas and rivers are a hard place to photograph because they are cold and usually murky, so for years I ignored them, preferring to travel to find conditions more conducive to producing pleasing images. But for the last 18 months I have been working on a British conservation photography project called 2020VISION, where a team of 20 photographers are documenting the importance of the wild places of Britain for both wildlife and the British people. It has made me appreciate our waters more than ever”. (Photo by Alexander Mustard/Barcroft Media)

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