Manatees are very passive and
loving creatures. Crystal River and Homosassa have a year
round population of Florida Manatees. Crystal River and
Homosassa Springs are known as the homes of the largest herds
of wintering Manatees that enjoy the protection of the Crystal
River National Wildlife Refuge. There is a resident herd year
round but as the Manatees seek warmer water between October
and March, the opportunity for Manatee viewing and “close up”
scuba or snorkel encounters increases during these months.
If you would like the thrill of taking Manatee pictures or
swimming with a Manatee, the Nature Coast should be your
destination. Many in places in Citrus County offer Manatee
tours and trips. For first or second timers I suggest a guided
Manatee tour on a licensed Captain’s vessel. They know how to
quickly locate Crystal River or Homosassa Manatees. A Manatee
tour Captain is also very knowledgeable and readily shares
stories with patrons. Many Charter Captains offer to make
underwater pictures or movies of their customers swimming with
the manatees. You can also rent or bring your own boat to
enjoy Manatees at your leisure. Manatees are waiting for you.
MANATEE FACT SHEET
Description of a Manatee: Large, seal-like body that tapers to
a beaver-like tail. Two forelimbs with three or four nails on
each. Manatees have thick skin, with stiff whiskers on upper
Color: Gray or gray-brown
Size: Typically about 9-10 feet long, weighing 1,000 pound.
Can grow as large as 13 feet, weighing more than 3,000 pounds.
Behavior: Completely harmless and non-aggressive, they are
often shy and reclusive.
Vision: Depth perception may be limited. Can differentiate
Hearing: Manatees can hear well despite the absence of
external ear lobes: directional hearing is limited.
Communication: Emit sounds that are within human auditory
range. They make squeaks and squeals when frightened, playing
or communication, particularly between cow and calf.
Breathing: Nostrils on upper surface of snout close tightly
like valves when submerged. Surfaces to breathe every few
minutes when active; every 10 to 15 minutes when resting.
Range/Habitat: Primarily restricted to peninsular Florida and
South Georgia. They can be found in shallow, slow-moving
rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas,
particularly where seagrasss beds flourish. Manatees can live
in fresh or salt water.
Manatee Reproduction: Normally one calf every 2 to 5 years.
Manatee Population: At least 1,850 Manatees are remaining in
the southeastern U.S. concentrated in Florida Crystal River
and Homosassa Springs year-round.