One of the most loved animals that you can see when you are in Florida are the manatees. If you live “up north,” you know that fall has arrived when the leaves turn color and snow flurries signal the start of winter. In Florida, the changes are much more subtle. But we know for sure that winter has officially arrived when our West Indian Manatees appear at warm water sources around the Sunshine state.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. Despite their size, manatees have little body fat, and need warm water to survive. Manatees love Florida’s waters for the same reasons we do. They can typically be found ,in the winter months, in shallow, slow-moving rivers, bays, estuaries and coastal water ecosystems around the state of Florida. They can live in fresh, brackish or salt water.
Where You Can Find Manatees in Florida
If you are heading to Florida and you want to see manatees for yourself, there are some great places that you want to visit. Below are six popular spots that people go to see these gentle giants.
1. Three Sister Springs
Three Sister Springs is at the top of the list because it has spring waters that are naturally warm flowing into its river. This attracts lots of manatees throughout the year. Winter’s a good time to go because that’s when the spring’s closed off. This lets the manatees warm up. When summer comes you can swim, canoe, or kayak with them, too.
2. Wildlife Park at Homosassa Springs
When you go to this state park, you can take the boat ride on Pepper Creek to the beautiful wildlife park. You’ll be able to see gators, cranes, wolves, deer and the gorgeous manatees. The manatees come to the spring during the cold months of the winter. There’s an underwater observatory so that you can go and watch these sea cows and there are also manatee programs. Rangers provide lots of wonderful information about these peaceful creatures.
3. Blue Spring State Park
This park is found in Orange City and if you go there during winter you can’t boat or swim. That’s the reason that a lot of manatees come here and enjoy the warm waters for sleeping and eating. When it’s not winter, you can snorkel and swim there. If you’re not able to come during winter, there are webcams where you can view the wild manatees.
4. Lovers Key State Park
Found in Fort Myers Beach, this park is great for watching the manatees since it isn’t as crowded as the other parks and its more natural. Its idea if you’re interested in kayaking with manatees – bring one of your own or rent a kayak, then have a park ranger where you should go. Even if you don’t see any manatees, chances are that you’ll see some bottle-nosed dolphins.
5. Merritt Island Nat’l Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge, found in Titusville, was actually purchased by NASA for the famous Kennedy Space Center and the leftover land was turned into a reserve for wildlife. Originally intended for the protection of migrating birds, it’s been discovered that a lot of different endangered species make it home. from different types of birds to snakes and tortoises, it’s also a great place to spot manatees.
6. Manatee Springs State Park
Funny enough, this state park wasn’t named as such because there’s a lot of manatees there. But you want to go there to see if you can spot some. Winter is the time of year to spot them and during the summer you can go scuba diving, swimming and snorkeling. No matter what time of year it is you can kayak and canoe.
7. Lee County Manatee Park
The manatees are only at this park when the temperature in the gulf is below the temperature of 68. So you want to go during winter. You can go to their website to find out when there are manatees about. You also want to go earlier during the day since manatees often go out later on to feed.
If you are interested in seeing a manatee, you want to go during wintertime. However, sometimes you get lucky during the spring. However, you want to remember that most of the rivers and springs are closed to snorkelers, scuba divers and swimmers, and sometimes kayakers and canoers. This is so that the manatees are able to warm up peacefully in the hot springs. If you want to have a complete experience those springs and their benefits and you don’t care about seeing manatees, warmer weathers will be your best bet. But you will want to see a manatee at some point in your life. They are such cool and beautiful creatures and it will be an amazing experience.
Planning a Trip to Florida?
After seeing Florida’s manatees, return to the beauty and comfort of a home from Naples Florida Vacation Homes. We have a wide selection of homes located all over the Naples area. Whether you’re hoping to squeeze in a few rounds of golf during your visit or you’d like to relax by a private pool, you’ll find the perfect home to fit your needs.
Check out our rentals and book today! We look forward to having you.