WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SEE A MANATEE?
The key to ethically swimming with manatees is to passively watch them. You are not supposed to go up to them, touch them, get too close, or swim above them. You’re also not supposed to use your legs to swim (only your arms) in case a manatee is to swim up behind you.
Manatees can be very curious, especially baby manatees, so they might want to come up to you. We didn’t have that happen to us because there were so many people around, but it does happen occasionally. If one does come up to you, you can touch it, but only if your arm is bent. If your arm is bent that means you aren’t actively trying to reach out and touch the manatee.
MANATEE RESTING ZONES
Where we toured, there are spots that are called ‘manatee resting zones’ where the manatees know they can go and lay down without being disturbed by humans. You can look inside of these, but you aren’t allowed to go inside of these areas, so you have to respect that if you’re going to swim with them. I was fine just watching them. They come up for air every few minutes (the max they can old their breath is 20 mins), so you’re bound so see them moving, even if you find sleeping manatees.