Just in time for Christmas, record lows shot through the state of Florida leaving many humans and animals alike searching for warmth. While most people had the luxury of turning the heat on or lighting a fire in the fireplace, the wildlife had to take a different approach. Over the past week manatees have been pouring into Florida's warm coastal connecting springs by the hundreds, hoping to stave off the cold.
Confirmed by Uncovering Florida, on the morning of December 26, 2022, the manatee count at Crystal River's Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge was estimated to be over 100+. At the time of our visit to the spring, the outside temperature at 10a.m. was only 37 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gathering in large numbers on cold days is not unusual behavior for manatees because while they generally spend most of their time in the ocean, because of their lack of blubber they have to seek out warmer waters on cold days to avoid hypothermia. Florida springs, such as those in Crystal River, offer the perfect solution with water that remains a constant 70-ish degrees year-round. And although Crystal River is known as the "Manatee Capital of the World", it is far from being the only spring manatees have been frequenting.
This video shared on Uncovering Florida's group page 19 hours ago shows dozens of manatees in Blue Spring State Park, a park about two hours east of Crystal River. You can find our video from Monday at Three Sisters Springs below.
Knowing that the Florida manatee is vulnerable, seeing them gather in the hundreds at any one location is quite the treat. What's more, a volunteer at Three Sisters Spring told Uncovering Florida that sometimes there can be thousands of manatees visiting the spring in a day, and once in a while a bottlenose dolphin or two will make their way in!
With warmer weather in the forecast, it's unlikely that the manatees will be congregating at the springs in the same numbers observed over the past week, but if you'd like to know when the best time to spot manatees is, and where at, check out our previous article here.