I last visited the manatee of Crystal River, Florida in 2010. It was an especially hard year for them with horrific cold snaps that left many dead from cold-stress syndrome. This year has been far more forgiving. From the archive: Magic Number for Manatees
The area is growing - a new boardwalk allows visitors to view the manatee resting in the springs without the need to get wet. A visitors center with lots of educational exhibits is being planned. There was more monitoring, lots of gentle corrections ("I'm sorry but no, you can't hug the manatee back.") and tons of happy visitors.
And how do the manatee feel about all of this attention? Well, the numbers utilizing Kings Bay are on the rise. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established a seasonal refuge (Nov-March) with key areas of Kings Bay cordoned off just for manatee: no fishing, no scuba, no boats and no swimming.
- Wear polarized sunglasses while operating a boat so you can more easily see manatee in the water.
- Manatee like to feed on shallow sea grass beds - use a pole, paddle or a trolling motor to avoid pinning them.
- Slow down!! Idle speeds are your friend in manatee zones. Believe the signs.
- Check around your motor before starting your engine. Manatee like to rest in the shade of boats.
- Do not feed manatee. It encourages them to approach boats and not everyone is going to be as nice about it.
- Don't pollute - fishing lines and plastic bags can cause no end of trouble with unsuspecting marine life.
|Scars from an encounter with a boat motor|