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Specialist Forums > General Forum > Manatee Tour Operators
posted : March 10, 2008 Post subject: Manatee Tour Operators
To all on the UKdiving Board:

Hello. My name is Mark Santa-Maria and an amateur filmmaker.

I arrived in Crystal River Florida with the intention of shooting a "pretty pictures" manatee video and recording their vocalizations with underwater hydrophones. My run-in with a local tour operator, who blocked my filming, caused me to re-examine the focus of the project.

During my month of filming, I began to witness some tour operators ignoring rules and guidelines. They were encouraging aggressive observation tactics while other, more eco-friendly operators, stressed passive observation and manatee-initiated encounters. This prompted the messages delivered in my video "Choice for Change." Please watch it here.

You can learn a great deal about the video and where other concerned divers stand on the issue by visiting the thread started on scubaboard in the US. That thread is here:

It has been posted on other boards throughout the world and I am trying to encourage more conversation and action to protect the manatee from this type of tour operation.

The film and other footage has been turned over to authorities with none of the blurring. The captain who cornered the manatee was spoken to by law enforcement. The rest I am unsure of.

I just want to encourage all divers to not see that choices we make can have an effect. Thank you for your time.


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