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Manatee Approaches Snorkeler, Hugs Him

The canals and waterways of south Florida may be starting to cool as winter fast approaches, but a particularly affectionate-seeming manatee is proving that there's still a bit of warmth there to be had. Last week, Jay Darden was snorkeling in Crystal River near Tampa, Florida, when he had a memorable encounter with one of the region's most recognizable inhabitants.

As the newscasters in the clip above note, touching manatees is strictly forbidden, except in Citrus County, where contact is limited but allowed.

This manatee might appear to be enjoying a moment of quality time with a snorkeler, but our presence in their habitat has been overwhelmingly negative on a whole. Boat strikes, chemical runoff, and other human activities are responsible in no small part to the threatened species' decline. And while even casual interactions like this might seem benign enough, the greatest show of affection that could be returned to a manatee would be leaving it alone.