Top Tips to Prepare for Manatee Season Crystal River

Manatee Season Crystal River swimming

Top Tips to Prepare for Manatee Season Crystal River

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Manatee season Crystal River is the best time of the year to see manatees.

If you’re looking to see nature’s sea cow, the nickname for a massive water mammal known as the manatee, you don’t want to miss out on heading to Crystal River.

Manatee season runs from the middle of November through March. If you’re wondering when to see manatees in Florida, this is the time! It is referred to as “manatee season” due to the massive amounts of manatees that migrate toward warmer waters during that time.

These manatees prefer warmer water temperatures and move from the salty Atlantic into freshwater springs, where winter temperatures are much higher.  

Somewhere between 400-1,000 manatees can be spotted in various natural springs in Florida! Florida is one of the only states where you can go and see manatees in their natural habitat. That’s right—if you’re anywhere else in the country, you’ll have to go to the zoo to see a manatee during the winter. However, in Florida, you can go and interact with manatees in their actual habitats, thanks to many state parks and reserves that work hard at protecting the manatees.

You can’t just go to any coast of Florida to see manatees though! There are a few places where manatees can be spotted and one of those is the Crystal River manatee swim tour.

manatee swimming freely in crystal river

Where is Crystal River located?

Crystal River is a city located in western Florida. It is a coastal town full of rivers fed by springs, lakes, and the warm tides of the gulf. It is notorious for the manatees that migrate there every year. Crystal River is located 66 miles north of Tampa, 261 miles northwest of Miami, and 78 miles west of Orlando. If you are from or visiting a major city in Florida, in just a few hours you can come to see the Crystal River Florida manatees.

best times of day to see manatees in florida

If you are interested in seeing the manatees that come every year, keep on reading. I compiled a list of some of the best tips for making the most of Crystal River manatee season.

Here are my tips for making the most out of manatee season at Crystal River:

Know where to go

Crystal River is a great place to start when looking to swim with the manatees. Manatee season in Crystal River State Park is a notorious place for manatees to be spotted. The headwaters at Kings Bay are fed by around 70 springs. One portion of these springs is called Three Sister Springs. Many manatees can be spotted in these warm waters. There is even a boardwalk that allows you to view the springs (and the manatees). Homosassa Springs, part of a State Park, also has areas where manatees are spotted. You can go out and look for yourself. Manatee viewing at Crystal River is very common.

Best ways to view manatees in their habitat

If you aren’t interested in researching to find where manatees are being spotted during manatee season at Crystal River, I would suggest that you book a tour. There are several options where guides will take you right to the manatees and allow you to swim and snorkeling with manatees. These tours provide an amazing window into the daily life of the manatees. It is important to mention that these tours come with information, an expert tour guide, and support while interacting with the manatees.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to book it early! It is a popular activity and so, if you’re planning a vacation, think ahead. It is the perfect way to make the most of your time.

Make sure you have enough time for manatee season Crystal Springs!

If you’re coming from another city or state, make sure you have enough time to see as much as you can! It is suggested to come for a couple of days so you can make the most of the manatee season at Crystal River.

This is another reason why booking a tour is helpful; it saves you from needing to gather gear or track down good locations to see manatees.

 There is a lot to do during manatee season at Crystal River. When you’re not swimming beside manatees, there is plenty to see and do in this coastal city such as eating at great restaurants, participating in nature activities, and getting to know the city.

best months to view manatees in florida

Understand how to interact with Manatees

It is necessary to understand how to interact with manatees. These animals are friendly and curious; they’re not afraid to swim up to you if you are swimming near them. This means that it is extremely important that you understand how to behave around them, especially if you are wondering about how to react when there are manatees near me. Though they are large mammals with behaviors that are like our own, manatees are still wild.  

The law states you can’t touch manatees. 

It may be tempting to stick your hands out to tickle the manatees, but it is against the law! Manatee season at Crystal River is a very important time of the year when manatees need to be protected. If you are close enough that you can touch a manatee, refrain. It is better to observe. To keep these gentle giants safe, humans need to be careful not to put them at risk in any way. Manatees’ only predators are humans. It has been said that the biggest risk to their lives is losing their habitat and being endangered by humans.

These peaceful creatures would much rather swim beside you, existing together, as they go about their daily needs (which mostly consist of eating—and more eating). They spend around seven hours a day eating! They eat a diet of ocean weeds and grasses. That means they won’t eat you! Which leads me to one of the most important points I can make:

Manatees will not bite you. 

These animals are calm and peaceful. Manatee season Crystal River is safe. Manatees are not capable of biting you due to the structure of their snout. There is no written record of a manatee biting anyone.

Pro Tip: This is important to remember: you have nothing to fear around manatees. Due to their massive size, it may be frightening to share a space with them. Instead of panicking, remember to stay calm.

The calmer and more still you can be when you are around manatees, the better off you will be. When compared to humans, manatees are considered blind. They gather information about their surroundings through vibrations hitting small hairs all over their bodies. You may scare them off if you cause too many vibrations—such as splashing, jumping, or swimming rapidly. Manatee season at Crystal River is a great chance to interact with these well-loved animals. It is an experience that you will not forget. You can feel at ease that manatees are not dangerous.

Have fun with Manatee Season Crystal River!

It is important to make the most of your trip to Crystal River during the manatee season. It is the perfect activity to do during the winter. You will not be able to interact with manatees in such an intimate and personal way anywhere else. It is a wonderful experience to take a break from daily routines and expose yourself to a part of the wildlife that, in return, will be just as interested as you. Manatee season Crystal River is the perfect excuse for a vacation, weekend trip, or a few days away.

Crystal River Manatee Tours

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