By Mikey Jones
Two snorkelers have been caught enjoying an up close and personal swim with a group of friendly manatees.
Becky Kagan Schott – an underwater photographer – took the images while enjoying a holiday near Homosassa River, Citrus County, Florida, late last year.
The images show Becky and her friend, Kim Brooks, in the river while the curious manatees swim around the pair.
Becky, from Philadelphia, added: “Snorkeling with manatees in Florida is something I do every year.
“Manatees swim into the rivers and warm freshwater springs in the winter months to stay warm.
“While observing the manatees one swam up to my friend Kim Brooks and appeared as if he was giving her a kiss!
“My favorite encounter was when a baby manatee decided to take up an interest in me several years ago and it kept twirling and pushing it’s nose up against the underwater camera.
“The calf would grab my hand away from the camera and push it against its body wanting to be scratched. Sometimes even as a photographer it’s not all about the photo, it’s about the memorable experiences.”
Becky – who rented a house on the Homosassa River for a family vacation – was delighted by the amount of manatees she encountered.
She added: “One day we were snorkeling near some springs in the river and a few curious manatees greeted us and stayed with us for over an hour!
“It’s a privilege when a wild animal decides to interact with you. We were respectful to the rules protecting manatees.
“I had one come up and nibble on my hair and wetsuit zipper string.
“This year red tide in Florida has killed over 100 manatee but despite that their populations have been growing over the years moving them an endangered species to threatened.”