Swimming with Seven Manatees in Sandestin

May 1, 2014 by SoWal Staff

SoWal local Brock Ellis had the experience of a lifetime recently when he got to swim with a group of seven manatees along the shore at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Brock was able to capture exciting photos and video (below) of the manatees.

It's not uncommon to see manatees swimming east in South Walton in the Spring as they migrate up from Southwest Florida, and again swimming west to get back down south in the Fall. Brock works on the beach so has a front row seat for all the great wildlife action in the Gulf.

Manatees are not territorial and have evolved with few natural enemies so have not needed the protection or cooperation of a herd. Manatees are somewhat social, and sometimes solitary. They occasionally gather in small groups, with no leader. Manatee groups are called "aggregations," and usually happen due to common habitat characteristics such as fresh water, warm water, and food sources.

Brock filled us in on the experience and what it was like...

How did you happen to get the video -  were you out filming? I was actually paddle boarding trying to get dolphins on film but didn't see any and then I ran across the seven manatees and just jumped in with my GoPro camera to film them.

Were you surprised - how did it feel to see them? Very surprised! I work beach services for Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, I've been here four years now and that's the first time I've ever seen them here. It was definitely an incredible experience.

What is the background for you and your photography company?  Well we kind of just started it, my brother Jason and I take pics all the time for fun and everyone asks us for them so we decided to put them online and sell them. E&E Photography came from our last name - we are the Ellis brothers. We are currently working on getting a website together but you can follow us on Instagram @eandeproductions or at

What kind of response have you gotten for the video? We have gotten really good responses actually! As soon as our pics hit Facebook everyone in Destin heard about the event it seemed like. We were getting calls left and right. We put the video up last Wednesday and it has almost 5,000 views in less then a week.

Anymore you can tell us? If you haven't checked out the video yet please check it out! I think you would enjoy it and please follow us we will have more interesting pictures and videos to come. 

The staff at will continue following the action from the Ellis Brothers! Just yesterday they were out shooting video of the flooding in South Walton.

Take note that one of the manatees has a tracking device attached to its tale, and another shows prop scars from a motor boat - a common hazard for the slow-moving animals. 

Photos and Video by E&E Photography


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