Image Source: Manatee Ecotours
How amazing would it be to swim with wild manatees? Pretty great, right? Well, there’s a place in Florida where you can swim with these gentle giants.
The manatees reside in Crystal River and it’s the only place in the country that you can legally swim with wild manatees.
The manatees swim into this river in the winter season when the temperature of the ocean is too cold for them. Instead of succumbing to cold stress, the manatees seek out warmer waters. Crystal River is warmer than the ocean because of freshwater springs that help to sustain it. The springs are a constant 72 degrees, which is much warmer than the ocean at that time of year.
In November through March, manatees flood the area in hopes of getting warmer.
One great place to see manatees is at Three Sisters Springs. Having been there myself, I can attest that at any point there could be hundreds of manatees at one time. Although I did not have the chance to swim in the spring, I was able to swim around the opening in the river area and hang out with quite a few manatees.
Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act and Crystal River remains the only place that you can swim with these friendly animals.
Read more about Crystal River and their wild manatees, here.