Florida Southern Students Get Up Close And Personal With Manatees

Dec 9, 2021

by FSC Staff

A handful of Florida Southern College students got an experience of a lifetime on December 5.

Students taking Biology and Conservation of Marine Mammals (BIO2120) under the tutelage of Dr. Melanie Langford, got to take a field trip to King’s Bay in Crystal River, Fla., to get an up close and personal experience with one of Florida’s most beloved and protected species.

Manatee group underwater.

The class was able to swim with manatees, while also learning more about the restoration of sea grass, which is what manatees primarily feed on in Florida habitats.

student in a wetsuit
Student in a wetsuit.

“Although I could easily tell that the students loved the experience, I didn’t fully realize the impact it had on them until I read their reflection papers,” Langford said. “In my class, 75 percent of them had never worn a wetsuit before.”

This is the first time since 2019 that Langford was able to take students on this unique field trip.

Some of the student recollections included:

group photo
Group photo on the boat.

“The first time I took a look underneath the surface it was awe inspiring and definitely took my breath away for a second. Seeing and imagining what it would be like to be a manatee and floating along those clear streams was absolutely a life experience." - Brooke Barnes ‘22

“All the talks and zooms we had over the semester were interesting, but nothing compared to this trip. Snorkeling with manatees was something I always wanted to do before I left Florida. The hands-on interactive trips the biology department makes sure its students get are the best parts of the major. It allows us to apply all of the information you teach us over the semester to real-life experiences." – Elisabeth Coppola ‘21