Diving cormorant

A Double-Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocoracidae: Phalacrocorax auritus) quickly swam by a few times while we were snorkeling at Three Sisters Springs.

While in a different family (Anhingidae), Anhinga appear similar and are behaviorally similar to cormorants, and the easiest means to telling the two apart, in my experience, is to look for the more robust, curved bill in the cormorant.

Red-breasted Sunfish

Lepomis auritus (Centrachidae) in Crystal River and Rainbow Springs State Park, Florida.

It was surprising to see abundant sunfish in the brackish, tidally influenced, portion of Crystal River, and I was excited to see that I didn’t know which species it was on-sight. I think these are red-breasted sunfish, a species that may be found in Ohio, but relatively rarely, especially compared to bluegill (L. macrochirus) and green sunfish (L. cyanellus). In fact, the collection of Ohio fish that was used in Vertebrate Zoology at Kent State didn’t include this species.

Manatee calf

A West Indian Manatee calf (Trichechus manatus), probably nearing 2 m in length, casually swims by and circles back towards its mother. In some of the images, the long sensory hairs that uniformly cover the animal’s body are visible.

Adult West Indian Manatee

A few resting adult West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) from Crystal River area, including Three Sisters Springs.

The IUCN first classified T. manatus as vulnerable in 1982, where it has remained since; however, there are two subspecies reported: T. m. latirostris (the Florida manatee) and T. m. manatus (the Antillean manatee) that are both classified as Endangered. In January 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to reclassify and downlist the manatee as threatened from its status under the Endangered Species Act as endangered, but it is still afforded many protections against harassment and habitat loss under the ESA.