3 Important Things to Remember Before Swimming With The Manatees

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They may not be as agile and elegant as dolphins or as strong and graceful as killer whales, but an encounter with manatees can be one of the most profound, memorable and gratifying experiences in your life. So big yet so tender, manatees will glide slowly toward you once they notice you in their habitat. Watching manatees use their paddle-like tails to move their 12-foot-long bodies gracefully through the water is a unique, exciting and unforgettable experience. You will enjoy every minute spent in the company of these animals in the crystal clear, blue waters of Crystal River, floating over the marvelous natural springs and watching the manatees graze, come to the water surface for air and just go about their normal lives. Being close to these sea cows is not only fascinating and fun, but also a rare opportunity to interact with an endangered animal in its habitat.

Entering the water

Manatees are endangered and protected animals. So regardless of how thrilled and excited you are, you must enter the water slowly to avoid disturbing them. Remember that as you descend in the water, some manatees will be paddling around slowly, some still sleeping while others will be going about their everyday lives. You must keep the splash noise to a minimum, make very slow movements and try to limit the amount of sediment that may rise from the river bed. If you see any manatees, do not chase or approach them. Just remain still in the water, observe from above on the surface and at a distance. Let the animals approach you. You must never prod, poke, ride, capture, harass, step on or feed manatees. By observing quietly and passively, you will get the rare chance to observe the natural behavior of these mammals. In fact, manatees are so social that they will come to you on their own.

3 Important Things to Remember Before Swimming with the Manatees

Swimming or snorkeling is a wonderful way to enjoy your time with these rare animals and to relish the 72-degree flowing springs of Crystal River. Manatees avoid scuba bubbles, so swimming is the best way for people of all ages to intermingle with them. However, once you enter the water, there are three important rules to follow to get the best experience and avoid potential fines.

1. Don’t dive down on a manatee

Swimming with manatees must never disturb or harm the animals. Once you get in the water, you must remain floating on the surface with very slow movements and no splash noise. This is why you are provided with a wetsuit to make you buoyant and keep you on the surface. If you see a manatee, just look but do not try to touch. Trying to swim toward a manatee may generate excess splashing and noise that will disturb manatees. You also may scare some of them away from their warm water areas into cold water or the path of a nearby vessel. Be still in the water, acting as if you do not have feet. If a manatee chooses to flee or move away from you, do not chase or approach the animal. The manatee may go off and then come back to you, which would be a wonderful experience. It is okay to swim toward a manatee, but you must only do so gently and quietly. There is a $500 fine if you breach this rule.

2. Don’t chase manatees

Swimming with these adorable creatures can bring so much pleasure if you just remain still on the water surface, cause no disturbance and watch from above. If the animals get anxious or sense danger, they will flee and avoid contact. It is absolutely forbidden to ride, chase or harass manatees. You should just float quietly and wait from a distance for the manatees to approach you. Don’t try to touch unless the manatee touches you first. They will typically let you know when you can touch them. You must never wear fins or use scuba gear as manatees prefer the absence of bubbles. Remain motionless in the water, watch and wait. These curious creatures will approach you for an interaction. And you will love it.

3. Don’t enter manatee sanctuaries

You must never enter designated manatee sanctuaries for any reason. Sanctuaries are roped off and protected areas, with no waterborne activities allowed. They are off-limits to any human activities like diving, swimming, boating and fishing. The sanctuaries are set aside based on scientific evidence, which identifies them as critical areas for manatee survival, especially as feeding areas or warm water habitats. It is in these sanctuaries where manatees typically feed, rest and sleep undisturbed. If you see a manatee inside a roped-off sanctuary, just observe from a distance. Your captain will ensure that you know what a sanctuary is and avoid any activities in these areas.

Planning to go on a manatee tour? Take advantage of the knowledgeable and experienced captains at Captain Mike’s. At Captain Mike’s, we provide a wide variety of trips that suit both the beginner and the most seasoned swimmer. Come and enjoy an amazing day out with these adorable creatures. For more information on manatee tours in Florida’s Crystal River, 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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