There are countless incredible outdoor experiences throughout Florida that are great for families. One that I recently had the pleasure of experiencing firsthand, provides unparalleled interaction with a unique animal..the Florida manatee! This is the only place in the United states where people can legally interact with manatees in the wild. Here’s some info on this unique and interesting experience.
Crystal River is located on the Nature Coast of Florida. It’s a small town with a population of just over 3,000. The city sits on Kings Bay. Kings Bay is an area of water fed by over seventy springs. These springs sit just over 5 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, the springs feed over 600 million gallons of freshwater a day. I had the opportunity to visit the most popular spring, Three Sisters Spring. This spring has crystal clear water, and in the colder months, holds hundreds of manatees.
The West Indian manatee is a threatened species and was formerly considered an endangered species in the 1970s, as there were only several hundred left in the wild. Most deaths were human related…manatees are frequently struck by boats and propeller blades. Recently, on March 30, 2017, the endangered species classification was lifted, and they are now considered threatened. There are currently around 6,000 west indian manatees in the wild.
The reason why the manatees venture into the springs surrounding the Crystal River has to do with falling water temperatures. When the water temperatures fall below 65 degrees in Florida, the manatees undergo great stress. The springs in the area around Crystal River have a constant temperature of 72-74 degrees. The manatees thrive in the warm water, they come here to mate and then birth and nurse their young. Although Crystal River holds manatees all year round, the months from November through April hold the highest concentrations.
Now for the fun part, swimming with the manatees! In this area, the manatee tours use what is called ‘passive observation.’ This means that you do not initiate contact, but rather observe and wait for the manatees to come to you. This allows the manatees to not feel threatened and to be relaxed in their own environment. When I visited Crystal River, we used 5mm wetsuits which are extremely buoyant. This allows you to float gently, without having to tread, so that the manatees will approach you and get extremely close
If you’re looking for a great way to get in touch with nature, that’s relaxing and accessible for the whole family, I recommend visiting Crystal River, staying at the Plantation on Crystal River, and booking a trip with their dive shop. They’ll set you up with the appropriate gear and teach you the best way to interact with these gentle giants. Did I forget to mention? There’s great fishing too! Visit www.discovercrystalriverfl.com and www.plantationoncrystalriver.com to book a trip.
Miami, FL (March 19, 2017) – Coming off a string of six total prizes at last year’s Telly Awards and an Emmy nomination, celebrity fisherman Peter Miller of Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller, filmed one of his most heartwarming episodes to date last week. The show, which regularly films in and highlights the world-class biodiversity of the waters surrounding Florida, Miller and his team granted Wyatt Dalton’s lifetime wish – to fish with Peter Miller. Dalton is a 10-year-old boy from Virginia who suffers from acute and chronic Leukemia. Dalton said the inspiration behind his wish was that he would watch Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller in the hospital daily, because it would help the time go faster during his treatments. Dalton wrote to Miller “I hope to meet and fish with you soon; I think we would look great on TV together.”
Luckily when you dream big, big things can happen because last week, Peter Miller, granted a wish by having Dalton, a Make-A-Wish recipient on his show. On Tuesday, March 14, 2017, Dalton and his family drove down from Virginia to Dania Beach, Florida and were elated to meet Miller at Bass Pro Shops. Miller provided Dalton and his family with Bass Pro Shops gift cards and Bass Pro Shops’ GM, Danny Vinson gifted Dalton with a fishing rod and reel along with a ton of gear. Afterwards, they had dinner at Islamorada Fish Company. While dining, Dalton and his family choked up a bit and said that it was the first time they had been out to a restaurant in over a year, as Dalton’s immune system was too compromised to be exposed to any germs during treatment.
On Wednesday, March 15, Dalton and his family embarked from Key Biscayne, Florida on the fishing trip of a lifetime with Bass 2 Billfish, Peter Miller and Captain Quinton Dieterle. Throughout the course of the day they caught five sailfish, barracudas and bonitos fishing alongside Peter Miller. During the excursion, Miller and the Daltons formed an everlasting bond. Miller took Dalton and his brother Will under his wing and coached them through the entire experience, including a triple header of sailfish for Dalton, his brother and father Michael. This was their first-time fishing in salt water. Dalton is now the youngest guest to catch not one, but two sailfish on an episode of Bass 2 Billfish. The family was emotional, and told the crew that it was such an amazing experience because for just that moment, they could forget how hard the past year had been and focus on enjoying themselves.
At the dock, Dalton was presented with a generous gift pack from Mike Myatt of the International Game Fish Association, which included a full-size sailfish print, mini sailfish mount and a bag full of gear for him to remember his incredible day on the water.
Wyatt Dalton’s episode is slated to air on Bass to Billfish with Peter Miller on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. EST. Miller has collaborated with the Make-A-Wish foundation on numerous occasions. This is the fourth wish Miller has granted on-air, and the fifth wish Miller has been involved in. Miller is honored and humbled to be able to provide these experiences, and he looks forward to collaborating with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the future.
Not all guests on Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller come from unfortunate or special needs backgrounds, yet Miller and his team make a point of using the program to give back to the public. For the past eight seasons of the program, guests from all over the United States, including children, father-son duos, girlfriends, war heroes, and many more, have submitted audition tapes for a chance to be on the show. Once accepted, the B2B team provides an unforgettable experience, including airfare, five-star accommodations, and a legendary gift pack loaded with swag from sponsors, including Yeti, Bass Pro Shops, Salt Life, Costa Sunglasses, Monster Speakers and others. No matter their background, fans of all ages and levels of fishing experience are welcomed to apply to be on the show, for a chance to hit the water with, “3 Time World Sailfish Champion” Peter Miller.
Fishing has a tremendous impact on Florida’s economy. I’m proud to support this industry in any way that I can! Here are some statistics about fishing and it’s importance.
Fishing in Florida..
Economic Impact in Florida: $9.7 Billion dollars per year
Jobs in the Florida fishing Industry: 127,000 jobs
Florida is #1 in the nation in saltwater anglers
Fishing licensing in Florida…
Over $47 million in revenue generated from licenses sold in 2015 and 2016 in Florida
Over 2 million fishing licenses sold in 2016 in Florida
I serve as the spokesperson for the “I DO” campaign, which influences fisherman to buy licenses. The revenue collected from fishing licenses enhances fishing and boating opportunities throughout Florida. Public marinas, boat ramps, fishing clinics, artificial reefs are some of the programs that are benefitting from the funds raised from fishing license dollars.
This season I had the opportunity to fish with Jacob Schick from 22 Kill. 22 Kill is a veteran’s advocacy organization designed to raise awareness about the difficulties that face veterans. The name was derived from the fact that on average, a staggering 22 veterans commit suicide per day.
Jacob Schick was deployed in Iraq as a Marine when the vehicle he was driving struck a tank mine. He was blown 30 feet into the air. Injured, he waited 42 minutes until a Blackhawk helicopter picked him up. He had collapsed lungs, multiple fractures in his left leg and arm, ligament and bone loss, and burns and holes in his left hand and arm. It took him over 15 months to recover mentally and physically. Schick had 46 operations, 23 blood transfusions and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Jacob spends his time motivating others through 22 Kill. What an honor to fish him with him!
Jacob and I fished out of South Seas Island Resort with Captain Ozzie Fischer. Fishing with Capt. Ozzie out of South Seas is one of my favorite destinations because great fishing is just a stones throw away from the resort.