Where is the best place to see manatees in Florida?

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Seeing or swimming with a vast number of Florida manatees is an amazing and memorable experience. The large aquatic mammals spend most of their time feeding on aquatic vegetation, sleeping underwater or roaming the waters. Generally, Florida manatees spend April to October in the waters of Southeast Florida. But when winter comes they migrate to the freshwater springs of Florida, where the temperature is constant at around 70 degrees throughout the year.

Manatee migrations

As soon as the water temperature drops below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, manatees migrate to warmer waters. During such migrations, large numbers of manatees move into one of the many natural springs in Florida. The manatees gather in the springs throughout the winter so they can survive the cold months. These manatee gatherings are one of the coolest and most remarkable things to witness in Florida.

Protected zones

Since the annual migration of manatees is full of perilous challenges, such as collisions with watercraft and harassment by humans, the waterways and springs usually frequented by manatees are under strict protections by state and federal authorities. Many of the areas famous for huge numbers of manatees during winter have been designated national or state parks. And to ensure that manatees are safe in these areas, many sites are closed to swimming and aquatic recreation activities in early spring and during the winter. Nevertheless, manatees still can be observed from designated watching areas.

So where is the best place to see Florida manatees? Well, there are many areas where you can see and even swim with these gentle sea cows. The most popular places are:

  • The Three Sisters Springs
    Huge numbers of manatees are found in the Three Sisters Springs throughout the year. As part of the larger National Wildlife Refuge of Crystal River, the Three Sisters Springs is a favorite destination for many nature lovers and adventurers because of professional manatee tour services provided by companies such as Captain Mike’s swimming with the manatees. Visitors can use kayaks or boats to tour the springs and observe manatees in the summer, but are restricted to designated viewing areas in the winter. A person can see up to 100 manatees during a tour, although the numbers vary depending on the time of the year. Remember to keep your interaction with manatees respectful and to observe the gentle giants from a distance.
  • Orange City’s Blue Spring Park
    Located on St. Johns River, the Blue Spring is a state park designed to preserve and protect manatee populations. Its crystal-clear water makes snorkeling, swimming, diving or kayaking attractive, fun and fulfilling. Visitors go to the Blue Spring Park in the summer to swim, snorkel or dive. But in the winter a large number of manatees gather in the park, so human access and activities are prohibited. However, there are designated areas in the park where people can observe the animals from a safe distance throughout the manatee season.
  • Merritt Island’s National Wildlife Refuge
    Found near Cape Canaveral, on Florida’s eastern coast, the Merritt Island’s National Wildlife Refuge is a large, undisturbed habitat of wildlife covering 140,000 acres of land and hosting over 1,500 animal and plant species. Manatees generally are found on the northern end of the refuge, at the Haulover Canal and Mosquito Lagoon, which have been certified as hot spots for the sea cows. The refuge has manatee viewing platforms, a boat ramp, interpretive signs and a polarized viewer.
  • Fort Myers Manatee Park, Lee County
    Situated on a warm water discharging canal across from the Florida Power and Light, Fort Myers Manatee Park is a great place to visit in winter because it hosts a vast number of manatees. It has several manatee viewing areas, picnic shelters and a butterfly garden.
  • TECO Observation Center, Apollo Beach
    The Tampa Electric’s manatee observation center is a popular sanctuary that boasts a large number of manatees throughout the year. Florida manatees migrate to the area to spend the winter in the warm discharge waters from the Big-Bend Power Station. The manatee viewing center has tidal walkways, manatee viewing platforms and an environmental education center.

Are you planning a thrilling, safe and unforgettable manatee tour? Do you want to enjoy an outing of a lifetime on Crystal River? Or would you like to reserve a manatee tour with a responsive, client-friendly and trustworthy manatee tour provider located just minutes away from a popular manatee viewing site? To get more information on how to plan for and enjoy a memorable and fulfilling manatee tour, visit the “Captain Mike’s Swimming with the Manatees” site.

Swimming with the Manatees boasts the best water adventure in Crystal River, Florida with lots of things to do for you and your family. For more information, contact us online, or call us at (352) 571-1888.

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