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The way to Swim with Manatees in Florida

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Is swimming with manatees in your bucket checklist? You’ll be able to swim with these mild giants of their pure habitat in Crystal River, Florida. These curious creatures might not have the energy and style of killer whales, or the agility and beauty of dolphins, however swimming with manatees is a profound expertise. Here is why and tips on how to swim with wild manatees in Florida.

swim with manatees florida
Swimming with manatees in an unbelievable life expertise (Photograph credit score:

Manatee Capital of the World

Crystal River is named the manatee capital of the world. It’s positioned in Citrus County on the west coast of Florida, within the coronary heart of the Nature Coast.

Considerable flora makes the realm a really perfect playground for the manatees. They arrive yearly by the a whole bunch to search out heat, meals, and possibly, simply possibly, to go to us, the curious people. The world is protected for these endangered mammals whose lives are sometimes reduce brief by environmental elements and deadly encounters with dashing watercraft.

Manatees at Crystal River
Manatees at Crystal River (Photograph credit score: thediver123.

Crystal River Nationwide Wildlife Refuge

Snorkelers, divers, and swimmers come from all around the world for an opportunity to swim with manatees. Quite a few dive websites, inland springs, good underwater visibility, calm water, and its wintering manatee inhabitants have made Florida’s Citrus County a well-liked vacation spot for nature lovers.

In line with Uncover Crystal River Florida, “The Crystal River Nationwide Wildlife Refuge consists of 20 islands in and round Kings Bay. The 80-acre refuge (solely accessible by boat) was established in 1983, to guard the West Indian Manatee.”

Crystal River is the one place in the USA for snorkelers to swim with the wild West Indian manatee in comparatively clear water. Citrus County and Crystal River are lower than a 1.5-hour drive from Orlando, Tampa, or Daytona. Be taught extra concerning the space on TripAdvisor.

Crystal River, Florida
Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, Florida (Photograph credit score: JohnHancockPhoto,

Crystal River Manatee Tour

Our days began within the early morning. That is the right time of day to snorkel with the manatees earlier than they tire of holiday makers.

My daughter and I boarded a pontoon boat with one of many few feminine captains within the space, Traci Wooden from Native Holidays. Having noticed two manatees just under the water, Captain Traci stopped the boat because the duo slowly glided in the direction of us.

They used their paddle-like tails to propel themselves up and down. The manatees steered with their flippers, gracefully shifting their 12-foot-long our bodies by means of the water. Our boat was quickly surrounded by these wild animals.


Guidelines for Swimming with Manatees

Quickly we resumed our journey. Inside a couple of minutes, Captain Traci stopped the boat once more and gave us directions.

“No matter you do,” she mentioned, “And it doesn’t matter how excited you’re — keep in mind the three golden guidelines: reduce splash noise; act with very sluggish actions; and once you do contact certainly one of these pleasant, mild grey giants on the again or abdomen, by no means contact with a couple of hand at a time.”

Sadly, these massive aquatic mammals are on the Endangered Species Record. The Endangered Species Act forbids touching a manatee until it touches you first, and they’ll let you understand. Two fingers are unlawful.

The foundations are strict in Homosassa, and the safety of the resident manatees is taken very severely. It’s unlawful to chase, trip, or harass these massive aquatic animals. However these guidelines will not diminish your expertise in in the slightest degree. A lot of the manatees are very social and can come to you.

State legislation forbids waking up certainly one of these 2,000-pound sleeping beauties will price you a whopping effective. However it’s completely authorized to snorkel or swim with these playful, inquisitive children of the deep when they’re awake and attempting to make your acquaintance.

Two endangered Florida Manatee nose to nose
Two endangered Florida Manatee nostril to nostril (Photograph credit score: YAYImages,

Youngsters Can Swim with Manatees

At Three Sisters Springs, very slowly we entered the water, attempting to not disturb the manatees and in addition attempting to maintain down the quantity of sediment rising from the underside of the river. Upon our descent, a number of the manatees have been nonetheless sleeping whereas others have been slow-paddling round.

Fortunately, these curious creatures usually take pleasure in human interplay. Swimming with the manatees is in no way troublesome or intimidating. There have been kids youthful than my daughter, Ilse (who was 10), in addition to seniors within the water. There was an considerable feeling of vitality and curiosity amongst us all. (Youngsters should be age 3+ to take part in group excursions.)

These mild creatures are wild, though when one nose-to-nose you’ll have second ideas about simply how wild they’re. They turned over and bared their bellies for us to rub, and swam alongside and nibbled at us. 

Ebook your swimming with manatees journey now or learn on to study extra.

A portrait of a baby manatee ~ swimming with manatees
A portrait of a child manatee (Photograph credit score: izanbar,

When to Swim with Manatees

The very best time of yr for a manatee expertise is in the course of the winter months. That is when the most important focus of manatees collect right here to hunt refuge from the chillier waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

From December to March, teams of manatees escape the chilly winter ocean and bask within the heat waters close to energy crops and coastal springs. The water in Crystal River stays about 72 F levels year-round.

A great egret taking flight at Crystal River, Florida
An awesome egret chickening out at Crystal River, Florida (Photograph credit score: dmussman,

Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park

For households who wish to take pleasure in nature at its finest, a wonderland is hidden behind Orlando’s amusement parks at Homosassa Springs in Citrus County. This can be a far cry from a modern-day aquarium.

Since not all guests wish to get so near the manatees, non-swimmers can even view these endangered mammals at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. The park supplies refuge for captive-born manatees. It’s a midway home for rehabilitating people who will probably be returned to the wild.

Some manatees which have been injured or orphaned will spend their lives within the park since they’re unable to outlive within the wild. The park additionally serves as a analysis and commentary middle, providing three each day instructional packages to the general public.

The park showcases a powerful menagerie of native Florida wildlife together with alligators, birds, and bears. It’s positioned on the headwater of the Homosassa River, a pure spring that gushes forth tens of millions of gallons of contemporary crystal clear water per hour.

Plantation on Crystal River
Plantation on Crystal River (Photograph credit score: Plantation on Crystal River)

The place to Keep Close to the Manatees

I like to recommend staying on the Plantation on Crystal River for its pretty lodging and guided wildlife excursions. This eco-friendly resort is completely positioned to view the manatees each day. Learn opinions of this resort right here.

A mama manatee and her calf in Crystal River, Florida
A mama manatee and her calf (Photograph credit score: pclark2,

Why Swim with Manatees

Upon getting swam subsequent to a mom manatee and her new child calf within the wild, it’s inconceivable that anybody might damage them. Like many guests, my daughter and I left this place with unforgettable reminiscences. We have now turn out to be avid supporters of defending and preserving these pleasant, docile creatures for generations to come back.

There’s hope that the manatee might but be saved from extinction. However the public must turn out to be conscious of the issue. These mild giants are so spectacular of their measurement and method; it might be troublesome to not fall in love with them. Fact is, swimming with manatees is a life-altering expertise.

Manatee in Crystal River, Florida
It will be onerous to not fall in love with manatees after a go to to Crystal River (Photograph credit score: YAYImages,

Ebook your Manatee Expertise of a Lifetime

Is swimming with manatees in your bucket checklist?

Ebook a 3-hour group swim with manatees journey! Masks, snorkel, moist swimsuit, and bottled water are supplied on this inexpensive tour.


To swim with much less folks in your tour group, select a VIP 3-hour small-group tour! This selection consists of espresso, tea, sizzling chocolate, juice, water, and cocktails served aboard a luxurious pontoon boat.

Visiting Orlando? You’ll be able to e book a manatees boat, snorkel, and swim tour with transportation out of your Orlando resort.

A manatee eating lettuce
A manatee consuming greensPhoto credit score: wrangel,

Enjoyable Info About Manatees

Manatees are very large. On common, they measure 10- to 15-feet-long and weigh one ton. Some may be bigger than 12 toes and weigh as a lot as 3,500 kilos.

A lot to our shock, this official marine mammal of Florida can also be nearsighted.

The majestic manatee is typically known as a sea cow for its docile temperament and beefy physique form.

The manatee’s closest residing relative is the elephant.

Manatees devour greater than 4 to 9 p.c of their physique weight every day. That is 200 kilos of greens, eaten 5 to eight hours each day to keep up their stunning rotund form.

Manatees are strictly herbivores. They eat a fantastic number of aquatic plant species, together with sea grass, water hyacinth, hydrilla, and water lettuce.

A rescued manatee being released back into the wild by Save the Manatee Club
A rescued manatee being launched again into the wild by Save the Manatee Membership (Photograph credit score: Save the Manatee Membership)

Assist Save the Manatees

You’ll be able to assist manatee conservation efforts! Undertake a manatee for simply $25 by means of the Save the Manatee Membership. Select from a listing of adoptable manatees to assist their care and survival.

Save the Manatee Membership is a 501(c)(3) non-profit group devoted to the conservation of manatees. It was based in 1981 by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett and Governor of Florida (and later U.S. Senator) Bob Graham. The charity acquired a rating of 95.79 out of 100 from Charity Navigator.

Feeding spider monkeys at Monkey Jungle in Miami
Teenager feeding spider monkeys at Monkey Jungle (Photograph credit score: Colleen Lanin)

Uncover Further Animal Adventures in Florida

You’ll be able to kayak with manatees and hand-feed spider monkeys in Miami. Find out about these animal encounters and extra with this checklist of issues to do in Miami.

Interacting with dolphins and deep-sea fishing are simply two of the various superb issues to do at Hawks Cay Resort within the Florida Keys.

View alligators within the wild and see a flamboyance of flamingoes with these Fort Lauderdale actions for households.

To plan your journey to the Sunshine State, be sure you examine the perfect Florida household trip locations.

Swim with Manatees in Florida

Preserve These Ideas for Swimming with Manatees

Dreaming of swimming with manatees? You should definitely save the picture above to Pinterest. Go forward and comply with Journey Mamas on Pinterest when you’re at it!

Would you prefer to swim with manatees? Share your ideas within the feedback under!

Professor Bel Kambach teaches Ecotourism and the Surroundings at St. Cloud State College in Minnesota. She brings all of her Ecotourism college students to show a lesson in conservation to her daughter’s college’s Saving Endangered Species program. Attain Bel through the Bel Explores Fb web page.

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