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Florida Manatee Weekends

A shorter, 3-day weekend version of our popular Florida Manatees and Endangered Habitats trip. You will snorkel with manatees in crystal-clear springs and learn about their ecology and conservation.

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Overview

This educational, 3-day program allows you to snorkel with Florida's manatees while also learning about their ecology and conservation. Participants stay in historic cabins at Espedeco Tree Farm, a private, family-owned property with >1,100 acres of sustainably managed habitat.

>> Watch a video from our Florida manatee program!

This is a great program for families. The highlight of the adventure will be two mornings spent snorkeling alongside large congregations of Florida's endangered manatees, in the crystal clear springs that they rely on in the winter months. In the afternoons, we will explore the grounds of Espedeco Tree Farm (described below) and you will have the option to take a local airboat excursion (at an additional cost).

Wildlife Highlights

The highlight of our trip will be two mornings spent snorkeling with manatees in their warm water winter refuge. The manatees are part of the Crystal River herd, which makes up roughly 25 percent of the United States' manatee population.

We will also have time to explore Espedeco's forests, which protect a disappearing habitat where many of Florida's native species can still be found in abundance, including alligators, bobcats, endangered gopher tortoises, armadillos, opossums, white tailed deer, foxes, and a wide variety of birds including osprey, owls, and hawks. Espedeco's open fields and wild meadows are also home to many species of butterflies.

Trip Dates & Cost

2016: December 17-20. $950 / person.* Group limit of 10.

2017: January 6-9. $950 / person.* Group limit of 10.

* Prices do not include airfare. There is a single supplement fee of $225. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.

Photos
Naturalist

Samantha Whitcraft holds a bachelor in Natural Sciences from Harvard University and earned her master of Marine Affairs and Policy at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. As a conservation biologist, she has worked with National Geographic, WildAid and local communities to research and develop sustainable ecotourism and "citizen science." A resident of Florida, her fieldwork has taken her to the Amazon, Kiribati, the Bahamas, Fiji, and the Galapagos.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival
Arrive to Espedeco Tree Farm any time after 3pm (dinner and USFWS manatee orientation video).

Day 2: Snorkeling with Manatees
Depart at 8:00 am for the boat harbor. Board a dedicated manatee viewing boat and spend the full morning snorkeling with and viewing manatees (with personal tour guide/naturalist). Return to the tree farm at around 1pm in time for lunch. After lunch explore the conservation areas of the sustainable tree farm, followed by dinner and a seminar on manatee ecology/conservation. Possible dusk owl walk.

Day 3: Snorkeling with Manatees
Depart at 8:00 am for the boat harbor. Board a dedicated manatee viewing boat and spend the full morning snorkeling with and viewing manatees (with personal tour guide/naturalist). Return to the tree farm at around 1pm in time for lunch. After lunch, relax or hike on the farm, or take an optional swamp airboat tour (at an additional cost), followed by dinner.

Day 4: Departure
After breakfast guests depart the Tree Farm by 9am.

Accommodations

A historic cabin on Espedeco Tree Farm.Participants stay in restored, historic houses and cabins on the private, family-owned, 100-year-old Espedeco Tree Farm, which protects 1,100 acres of vital and vanishing habitats where many native species are still found in abundance.

Espedeco's forests protect a disappearing habitat, where many of Florida's native species can still be found in abundance, including alligators, bobcat, endangered gopher tortoises, armadillo, opossum, white tailed deer, foxes, and a wide variety of birds including osprey, owls, and hawks. Espedeco's open fields and wild meadows are also home to many species of butterflies. The property formerly belonged to the Southern Phosphate Development Company and contained a phosphate mine and company housing.

The Whitcraft Trust, which owns the property, is working with the Citrus County Historical Society in applying to include two of the Southern Phosphate Development Company's original and fully restored mining camp houses (from the late 1800s) and two additional/associated buildings from the 1920s on the City of Inverness's list of historical structures via the Florida Master Site File; and will also seek to nominate these buildings for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

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