January 5, 2018
Manatee on Manatee on Manatee
- as seen by -Eric Januszkiewicz
Gorgeous see-through water speckled with manatee.
This is something you might see if you go to some of the springs on the west coast of Florida in the winter time.
When winter comes in Florida, and the water dips below 68°F, manatee head for the freshwater springs that maintain a year-round temperature of 72°F. This is the perfect time to get up close and personal with these gentle giants.
Three Sisters Springs, part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, is one of the major hotspots to view large congregations of manatee. I had been on a boat and snorkel tour around 10 years ago, and even though I went in the summer when there weren’t many manatee, I was blown away by the beauty of the springs and the sheer abundance of wildlife protected in those waters. I was fortunate enough to return to these springs, this time in the winter right after a cold front had moved in, and what I saw was indescribable. The translucent turquoise water was riddled with manatee. Literally hundreds. I went out on a paddle board and some swam right under me.
Watercraft collisions, fishing gear entanglement, and pollution have effected manatee populations. Seeing these large, graceful creatures in person really gave me an appreciation for the conservation efforts that have increased their numbers dramatically over the years.