Manatees Huddle by the Hundreds at Three Sisters Springs

Hundreds of manatees have gathered in the warm, crystal clear waters of Three Sisters Springs, a unit of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. USA Today reports that at least 500 manatees are currently sunbathing and hanging out in this area.

Manatees Three Sisters Springs 020816Video of manatees outside Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River Florida this morning. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates about 300 manatees were using the spring as a warm water shelter this morning.

Posted by Citrus County, Florida :: The Water Lover’s Florida on Monday, February 8, 2016

This manatee spring break party, of sorts, began on Monday as the docile mammals moved to the springs’ warmer waters. With its constant temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit, Three Sisters Springs is the perfect spot for manatees seeking refuge from the cold. Manatees cannot survive in waters below 60 degrees and when exposed to temperatures below 68 degrees, for long periods of time, they begin to experience “cold stress syndrome” and could die.

In warmer months, manatees usually call the Gulf of Mexico waters home and are most commonly spotted off the coasts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. However, they have been spotted as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts. 

To provide the manatees some time to rest and lounge around in the warm spots, Three Sisters Springs is currently closed. Once the manatee numbers reduce, the area will reopen. Daily updates can be found on the Facebook page for Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.

But you can still hang out with these gentle giants no matter where you live. The Friends of Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge have created a virtual swim with the manatees. Check it out at: friendsofcrystalriver.org/tour/ThreeSistersSprings.html.

Manatee basking in the sunlight on a cold winter's day at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Fla. | Carol Grant
Manatee basking in the sunlight on a cold winter’s day at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Fla. | Carol Grant

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is the only refuge created specifically for the protection of the endangered Florida manatee. Manatees are slow moving and gentle creatures with no known natural predators. Much of their habitat and population decline is due to human activities and interference. In 2010, the Refuge Association’s Beyond the Boundaries program helped permanently protect the 57-acre Three Sisters Springs – once permitted for development– ensuring manatees will continue to have access to these translucent blue natural springs.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2016/02/manatees-huddle-by-the-hundreds-at-three-sisters-springs/

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