Sea cow much I love you! Over-friendly manatee cosies up to diver in heart warming video
The heart-warming moment an over-friendly manatee gets cosy with a diver has been captured on camera.
In the adorable footage, student Rebecca Ziegler gets kisses and cuddles from a sea cow while diving in Crystal River, Florida.
Over three days, the adoring manatee kept returning to Rebecca as she swam on a trip with photographer Becky Kagan Schott.
Before arriving for the trip, Rebecca didn’t even realise that manatees frequent the springs around Crystal River.
In preparation for diving with the huge sea creatures, Rebecca took a course in passively observing manatees as they are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
But once she got in the water, one manatee took a special shine to her and came over for a kiss and cuddle every time she dived.
Rebecca, 21, from Southern California, said: “I had seen manatees at Sea World when I was really little, but never before in the wild so I was really excited for the opportunity.
“I wasn’t scared at all, even though they can weigh upwards of 900 pounds!
“The best interactions are when a visitor is calm, making as little noise as possible and generally just floating.
“But the manatees do not know they are protected and should give a hands-off approach to visiting humans.
“The younger manatees think people are their own personal scratching posts and are all around very playful.
“My technique was to flirt with the manatees – they always have people rushing towards them so I approached them slowly.
“I would swim close enough to get their attention, then I would kick backwards slowly, turning away from them.
“Nine out of ten times I would feel a bump on my arm and look to see the manatee.
“They would seem to be saying “Hey what’s wrong with you, I’m right here!”
“One little manatee followed me all the way back to the boat and “chewed” on my wetsuit, almost in a “don’t go” manner.
“Back on the boat they joked about me being the manatee whisperer!
“It was hard for me to leave the water that last day as I had them following me back to the boat. And who could say goodbye to their adorable faces?!”
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