Manatees roam the waters of southeast Florida from April through October -- but when things get a bit chilly, they head to places like freshwater Florida springs, where the temperatures remain constant throughout the year.
It may not seem warm when you jump into a freshwater spring, but the water temperatures remain around 70 degrees, which is perfect for manatees in Florida who need that kind of warmth to survive.
Seeing a large number of Florida manatees in one place is an amazing experience, but just remember these gentle sea cows are there for survival.
Attracting manatees in the wintertime, Manatee Lagoon, An FPL Eco-Discover Center in West Palm Beach has seen up to 800 manatees during a cold snap. Here visitors will find two levels of exhibit and observation areas designed for viewing these endangered species up close, where a 16,000-foot center features hands-on displays to help learn about the manatees and the eco-system around Lake Worth Lagoon. Watch manatees bask in the warm-water outflows from Florida Power & Light Company’s near Riviera Beach, or join one of the kid-friendly Manatee Tales and Manatee Lagoon Talks where Manatee Master’s tell first-hand stories and guide visitors on a walking tour of Manatee Lagoon’s exhibits
Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River
Three Sisters Springs, tucked away in one of the last undeveloped tracts in Crystal River, is a collection of three springs feeding into Kings Bay. Considered to be one of Florida’s most visually stunning springs, its translucent blue hues create an “other-worldly” feel. Shafts of sunlight pierce through the lush overhanging greenery into glittering crystal-clear water bubbling up from the sandy bottom as manatees gently glide below the surface. A boardwalk with viewing platforms gives visitors a perfect vantage point. Visitors can access the boardwalk via a trolley tour departing from the Three Sisters Springs Center every half hour. The Trolley also provides access to Hunter Springs Park.
Citrus County's Homosassa River offers kayakers another option to see manatees. Launch at the Old Homosassa public ramp and paddle upriver towards the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, an easy one-hour ride. "Blue Water" is your destination where manatees congregate outside the park before they enter to be around the warmer springs. This is a prime location for manatee observation and a favorite with paddlers (kayakers cannot enter the park from the River).