Do manatees prefer shallow water?

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Being among the manatees is an adventure you’re sure to remember. With their sad, puppy-like eyes and their sluggish, gentle manner, manatees are endearing creatures. They will approach you with playful curiosity and interact with you of their own free will, giving you the chance to see them up close and interact with them in their natural habitat.

Shallow water animals

Manatees prefer shallow, slow-moving warm waters. That’s why they congregate in rivers, estuaries, canals, saltwater bays, and coastal areas. While they can go into deeper waters when the weather is rough, the aquatic mammals typically manage to cover a depth of only 1-3 meters in water. The deepest they’ve covered on record is 10 meters.

Why do manatees prefer shallow water?

1. Poor tolerance to cold

Lacking enough blubber and having a low metabolic rate, manatees have poor tolerance to cold. On prolonged exposure to frigid water, typically below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, they lose body heat quickly. In turn, they fail to digest their food, resulting in a condition called “cold stress” that may eventually be fatal.

To avoid cold shock, the manatees prefer to live in shallow waters where it is usually warmer. When winter comes, they migrate to warm water areas to boost their chances of survival. That is why manatees tend to limit their foraging to warm natural springs or areas near thermal refuges.

2. Reliance on green plants

Manatees are herbivores that feed on a variety of submerged, emergent, and floating plants. Plants such as manatee grass, turtle grass, shoal grass, eelgrass, water hyacinth, and Hydrilla, among others—require sunlight and are found in clear shallow waters.

The grass-like plants form small patchy beds called seagrass meadows that are at most 3 meters deep. Manatees prefer to dwell and forage in shallow water where they can find plenty of vegetation.

3. Hearing higher frequency sounds

Manatees hear well at higher frequencies. Hence they prefer shallow water where low-frequency sounds are usually not transmitted due to physical barriers. Their inability to hear low-frequency sounds explains why they are more susceptible to injury by boat propellers. Plus, the shallow water enables manatees to escape easily when dangerous situations arise.

Want to see and swim with these fantastic animals in Crystal River, Florida? At Captain Mike’s swimming with the manatees, we give you the chance to snorkel with these remarkable creatures in the wild. During your manatee tour, you can observe the animals from a private boat or dive into the water to get even closer with them.

You will be in the company of highly skilled, knowledgeable, and certified captains who go out of their way to look for the manatees—even further away from the crowds when possible. Our captains are friendly and respectful to the environment and the animals. You will learn a lot about manatees from the captains and enjoy a day of adventure, education, and excitement.

For more information on manatees and manatee tours, visit the Captain Mike’s Swimming with the Manatees website.

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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