The creature emerged from the murky depths of Florida’s Crystal River just a couple of feet below where I was floating. I froze and felt my eyes widen. I wanted to shout “manatee!” but knew that would scare the animal. And that was the last thing I wanted to do.
Before I even dipped a toe in the water, I had been drilled about the rules of passive observation. “You have to be really quiet,” said Yves Delpech of Sunshine River Tours. And don’t touch the manatees; “let them touch you,” he said. Manatees, it appears, are the introverts of the sea.