Where are manatees found in Florida?

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Manatees roam the warm waters of southeast Florida between April and October, but head to Florida springs when the weather turns chilly. As they congregate in herds for the winter to escape cooler temperatures, they are easier to spot and swim with in the clear, bubbly freshwater springs near power plants or in state and marine water parks. While manatees can be seen in Florida at any time of the year, November to April is the best time to look for these gentle giants as they gather in places with warmer water.

Where are manatees found in Florida?

There are many places in Florida where manatees can be found. Many such places have boardwalks next to the waterways to allow visitors to see manatees en masse. Other locations have platforms to allow visitors to observe manatees from lookout decks. There are also a large number of outdoor adventure outfitters who specialize in manatee trips, either by canoe, boat or kayak, enabling adventurers to have a closer look. And with expert guides trained how to spot and interact with these unique creatures, adventurers can find, snorkel and swim with the manatees with greater ease.

Are you ready to see Florida manatees? Here are 5 places to find them.

1. Manatees at the Blue Spring State Park

The Blue Spring is one of the best places to view manatees in Florida. Located in Orange City to the north of Orlando, the park is a designated refuge for manatees and perfect for viewing. The spring is a “no boat needed” location for viewing manatees. It is closed to swimmers and kayakers during manatee season, usually from Nov. 15 to March 15, but has several boardwalks and overlooks to allow visitors to see manatees. The park may even delay opening for boaters and swimmers if the weather keeps manatees in the park longer than expected.

2. Manatees at Crystal River and Three Sisters Springs

Meandering around Kings Bay, where more than 70 springs offer conducive temperatures for manatees during the winter, Crystal River is a wonderful place to see and swim with manatees. At Crystal River, you can swim with or view manatees using a kayak (your own or rented) and from land at a boardwalk going around the Three Sisters Springs, the most gorgeous spot in Crystal River. Three Sisters Springs is a combination of three springs that form the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. It is a year-round destination for those who want to kayak, boat or swim with manatees and boasts huge numbers of manatees in the winter.

3. Manatees at various springs

There are many other springs in Florida where you can have a magical experience. For example, the Weeki Wachee spring found at the Weeki Wachee State Park is a wonderful place to view manatees during the winter. At Weeki Wachee, adventurers move along the spring in a canoe or kayak to see manatees as they are often located some distance upstream away from the actual spring. Another place to view the manatees is in Tarpon Springs, which has a small city park with a freshwater spring that attracts a big number of manatees in winter. Likewise, Chiefland is a state park located on the Suwanee River and attracts manatees during cool weather. Manatees also are found in Wakulla River, St. Marks River, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs in Panhandle and Fanning Springs State Park located a few miles from Suwanee.

4. Manatees found outside springs

Apart from the springs, Florida manatees can be found in other places. For instance, the Fort Myers Manatee Park usually has dozens of manatees in the winter as they congregate around the warmth provided by a Florida Power and Light plant. The free park has extensive viewing areas as well as picnic tables and playgrounds. Manatees are viewed using kayaks. Another location, the Riviera Beach plant, attracts up to 800 manatees in the winter while the warm water discharge area for the Fort Pierce power plant attracts at least 30 manatees during the winter. Manatees also can be seen at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center and Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach, among other areas.

5. Manatees in captivity

Manatees can be seen at Homosassa State Park, where there are many resident manatees that are observed via an underwater observatory. In winter, the gates into the park’s first-magnitude spring are opened to allow wild manatees to flock into the warmer waters. Visitors can view dozens of wild manatees at the park, particularly on cold days. Other aquariums and zoos with manatees include the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, SeaWorld of Florida, Miami Seaquarium and Disney’s Epcot Center.
For more information on the places to view and swim with manatees in Florida, go to the “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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