You must have heard a lot about Manatees. But do you know swimming with manatees in the wrong place can lead you to jail? Yes, swimming with manatees is only legal in a few places in Florida.
To avoid getting these animals to extinction, the Government put certain laws in place. Some of these laws include the Marine Mammals Protection Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978.
These laws outline how humans can interact with Manatees when they visit them. These laws allow you to view these water-dwelling animals in a variety of streams in Florida. However, the laws do not allow visitors to swim with these creatures in all these areas except in some designated wildlife refuges.
The reason is because, asides from these refuges, there is no monitoring for swimmers with manatees in other places. Swimming without expert monitoring can be dangerous for the manatees. Therefore, anyone swimming with manatees in other areas may be breaking the law, which may incur fines between $500 and $50,000.
Continue reading if you are interested in swimming with manatees. This article will show you the best places to swim with manatees in Florida. We will also show you the best amongst the top 3 places to swim with manatees in Florida.
Homosassa Springs is the best amongst the top places to swim with manatees in Florida. It is a small settlement in Citrus County, Florida, United States. Asides from being one of the best places to swim with manatees, it is one of the most beautiful places in the United States.
Many visitors have described it as having the world’s most magnificent river and springs. A staggering amount of freshwater and saltwater fish, including huge jacks, snapper, and snook, continue to cluster in the natural spring basin.
For visitors coming to see manatees in Homosassa, there are two options. Visitors can either observe manatees from an underwater observatory. The underwater observatory is a unique underwater construction that enables visitors to “walk underwater” under the spring’s surface to see the fish and manatees swimming around.
In the observatory, you can see the depths of the spring, and you may see fish and manatees in their natural environment. There are particularly two manatees in the observatory all year round.
These two manatees have been retained owing to injuries they sustained. This park serves as a refuge for these manatees during the entire year. In addition, the park is used as a rehabilitation center for manatees that have been injured or become unwell before they are released into the wild.
During the winter months (November 15th to April 1st), the two regular inhabitants of the park move to a separate section of the park, and a fence that is normally closed between the spring and the river is opened, allowing wild manatees to utilize the spring as a warm-water refuge.
The gate is locked on April 1st and remains shut until November 15th, when the permanent manatee residents are free to roam the spring and may be seen by webcam. This lens allows viewers to get up and personal with these peaceful giants while also taking in the sights and sounds of the springs in all their calming glory.
The park employees feed the manatees romaine lettuce and several other veggies since they are held in captivity permanently.
Outside the refuge, visitors can swim with other wild manatees. While swimming, you will see that this place is the best among the top places to swim with manatees n Florida.
Unlike other locations, it is usually not too crowded so that you can have a one-on-one experience with manatees without interruptions. Also, it is a developed facility with several amenities that will make your stay memorable.
The park also exhibits captive creatures, including alligators, flamingos, key deer, whooping cranes, black bears, red wolves, and Lu, the oldest captive hippopotamus. The park’s natural animals are ambassadors for their species, allowing visitors to interact directly with the creatures and their surroundings. Like the manatees, the animal residents are here for the same reason; they cannot live in the wild independently.
Crystal River Springs is located in the city of Crystal River in western Florida. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is located in Kings Bay, supplied by the springs, and protects manatees throughout the year. It is one of the few places in Florida to go swimming with manatees in Crystal River legally.
Crystal River and Kings Bay are known for their consistently cool waters, which maintain an annual average temperature of 72 degrees. Because manatees cannot survive in water temperatures below 68 degrees, they typically seek sanctuary in the warm, shallow springs found throughout the area throughout the winter.
During the winter, Crystal River is one of the best places to swim with manatees in Florida and the world. It is comprised of seventy springs, one of which is known as Three Sisters Springs, which attracts between 400 and 500 manatees during the winter months due to the temperate waters and abundant flora in the area.
At the Crystal Springs Wildlife Refuge, the boardwalks provide vantage points of the natural springs and the marine mammals.
Because the springs run at a consistent temperature of 72 degrees, the waters appeal to a wide variety of swimmers throughout the winter. As a result, the area is usually filled with too many tourists trying to find places to swim with the manatees in Florida.
Within the boundaries of the Refuge, you will find many tour operators. Each of these operators is meticulously trained, licensed, and monitored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
When swimming, kayaking, or canoeing in the same waters as manatees, visitors must comply with stringent rules set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. This means that when you visit, you are not only guaranteed to have an amazing experience, but you can also do so secure in the knowledge that you will be treading lightly, that you won’t be stressing the manatees, and that others who come after you will also be able to share a similarly beautiful experience in the future.
The only problem with this area is that it is always too crowded. Too many people visit the place, so it may not be as fun as you imagined. You will have to struggle to get a spot for nice pictures. Plus, if privacy is a thing for you, this location cannot guarantee that for you.
Asides from the congestion, Crystal River is a destination with attractive structures. You may also want to experience golf and excellent cuisine in this location.
Finally, on our list of places in Florida to swim with manatees, we have Ozello. This is a small settlement located between Crystal River and Homosassa. Although not as popular as the above, Ozello offers a unique swimming experience with Manatees.
You are permitted to go into the water with manatees here as long as you adhere to the strict instructions while supervised. This helps ensure that there are plenty of safe places where manatees can relax without being bothered by curious visitors.
When you swim with manatees in Ozello, the manatees may voluntarily leave their safe zones to engage with you out of curiosity. You should not harass, feed, or harm the mammals. You should only enjoy your time swimming with the mammals.
We have shown you the top 3 places to swim with manatees in Florida legally, which are Homosassa springs, Crystal River Springs, and Ozello. All three locations offer unique experiences when it comes to swimming with manatees. However, if you are considering an all-round fun experience, you may want to pick Homosassa Springs. This is because the area offers more fun activities than the other two locations. Also, Homosassa is usually less congested, unlike Crystal River Springs. That means you can have a nice swimming experience and take pictures without dealing with crowds.
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