If you are waiting for the "right time" to take a trip to see Florida's elusive manatees in the flesh, this weekend may offer the perfect opportunity--as long as the predicted weather forecast holds.
According to AccuWeather, temperatures across the mid-to-upper regions of the state could be dipping into the 30s this weekend. The low on Saturday, December 17, 2022, for Crystal River, one of Florida's best known manatee hotspots, is currently showing around 45-degrees and a chilling 34 on Sunday, December 18.
While 34 won't be quite low enough to freeze your plants, it will be plenty cold enough for these blubberless mammals to seek refuge in the state's many costal connecting and considerably-warmer 72-degree-year-round fresh water springs.
Some of these springs include Weeki Wachee, Crystal River and Homosassa, and though all three are great choices for manatee spotting, Crystal River, home to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, is often considered the overall best.
Within the sprawling refuge is Three Sisters Spring, a public park with a dedicated manatee viewing area. There is no water access from the park, but the boardwalk trails surrounding the spring offers visitors plenty of viewability.
During the winter months this park fills with camera-ready tourists and the guest of honor, the Florida manatee. On the coldest days, the spring can be filled with hundreds of manatees at a time; a truly spectacular sight considering that Florida manatees are endangered with an estimated less than 10,000 left in the wild.
Florida's iconic "manatee season" coincides with winter because while these mammals are usually lulling along the state's coastlines, their lack of blubber forces them to seek out warmer waters to avoid hypothermia when ocean temperatures dip.
"Your best chances for seeing manatees inside of Three Sisters Springs is on a cold winter day, when the water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are below 68 degrees Fahrenheit," the Three Sisters Spring website notes.
With lows predicted far below 68 this weekend, there's no doubt that aggregations of sea cows will be flooding into the coastal connecting springs!
For more information on how and where best to enjoy manatee season, click here.