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As we step into what many consider the state's "most wonderful time of the year," the crisp morning air marks the official arrival of manatee season in Florida. With temperatures now often dropping below the 50s overnight, these beloved gentle giants are once again arriving en masse at various coastal connecting Florida springs for warmth.
The Florida manatee, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, embarks on its annual migration to the state's natural springs during winter, with the months of December and January often seeing the greatest influx.
"The peak season for observing manatees is November through April, and the local manatee population swells to its largest size between December and February," writes Discover Crystal River on their official website.
Crystal River, home of Three Sisters Spring, is regarded as one of the best locations for manatee spotting in Florida.
Seeking refuge in springs like Crystal River, manatees find a stable environment crucial for regulating their body temperature, especially given their lack of a thick blubber layer.
Beyond the thermal haven, the warm springs provide additional vegetation for grazing and serve as communal spaces for social interactions, mating, and community dynamics.
These migrations are vital for the well-being of these gentle giants, safeguarding them from cold stress and supporting their reproductive activities.
Conservation efforts, including designated boating speed zones and sanctuaries, play a pivotal role in preserving these habitats and ensuring a secure environment for this endangered species during their seasonal visits.
The best dates and times for manatee spotting is on cooler days early in the morning and currently you can get up close and personal with the manatees of Crystal River on a three-hour snorkling adventure for only $50 by clicking here!