In the past, the best time to swim with manatees in Florida was specifically in winter. However, today it’s increasingly common to swim with these mammals throughout the year.
Manatees are docile marine mammals that are harmless and graceful. Sharing an underwater experience with these creatures is a profound experience. A threatened species, manatees are protected in Florida where riding, chasing, or harassing the manatees is forbidden.
Using a manatee Florida map, you will see that these mammals prefer swimming in warm shallow waters like estuaries and coastal areas and rarely go deeper than 20 feet. To maintain a healthy body temperature, manatees cannot be exposed to water temperatures colder than 70 ºF (21 ºC), for too long otherwise they get stressed making them vulnerable to infection or death.
Other than Man, manatees don’t have any natural enemies, but their biggest threat is being injured or killed by boats and loss of habitat due to environmental damage. In 1966, manatees were listed as an endangered species and conservational awareness and laws are monitoring their numbers and survival.
During the summer months, manatees are mostly found along North America’s East Coast. In winter between November and April, large groups migrate to Florida where they travel freely in coastal waters, specifically near Crystal River.
This is the heart of Florida’s nature coast and home of the manatee where the population is primarily concentrated.
About Crystal River
You will have the best manatee swim in Crystal River because you are guaranteed to have a manatee encounter. Crystal River is the only place in Florida where it’s legal to swim with manatees in their natural habitat. Located in Citrus County, the area gets busy and draws crowds because of the high number of manatees found in Kings Bay.
The Three Sisters Springs is a quieter viewing and swimming spot but wherever you are, the best time to be with the manatees is early morning 6 am to 8.30 am when they are most active. You can also experience the manatee swim by visiting with a tour group. This is a knowledgeable and safe way to get the most out of your experience so book in advance for the best swimming slot.
If you’re unsure about getting into the water with a large sea mammal, you can still enjoy a close encounter with different tours that include renting a kayak or paddleboard or joining a guided kayak excursion.
How much do manatee tours cost? Different tours can include or exclude the swim and range from about $60 up to $450 depending on the included activities and number of people participating.
The Manatee Experience
If you’re a local or a tourist, planning your manatee experience starts with reading up on Crystal River manatee swim reviews. The experiences and advice from others are encouraging and helps you mentally prepare for your encounter.
Before embarking on your close encounter, you’ll be briefed on what’s allowed during your manatee moment.
Manatee Protection Law
Adhere to these rules for the safety and well-being of the manatees. They are curious and may initiate human interaction. The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act and Endangered Species Act prohibits the touching of a manatee unless it touches you first, and then you may not touch it with both hands.