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Where to see Manatees - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

Manatees are fascinating gentle mammals which inhabit the coastal waters around Florida. Sadly their numbers are declining due mainly to human activity, and they are now an endangered species. Many of them die from injuries received from boat propellers or from carelessly thrown fishing nets and lines. Their natural habitat is being reduced by commercial and agricultural development.

There are now quite a lot of places where you can go and see manatees which are being rehabilitated after injury and before being released back into the wild.

Seaworld is one of those places. They have a programme of rescuing and rehabilitating them and park visitors can see them close up. They have a team of people who are on call 24 hours a day to rescue injured, orphaned or ill manatees. They are then brought back to Seaworld to be cared for and rehabilitated very successfully by the staff of vets and biologists. While they are recuperating they form part of a very popular attraction for park visitors. After they are released back into the wild the Seaworld team tracks them for a year to learn about their feeding and migration patterns and use the information to develop their manatee refuge centres.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a 185 acre park which has some of Florida’s most beautiful landscape with wetlands, streams and a 45 foot deep natural spring as the centrepiece. It is one of the few places where you can see manatees every day of the year. You can see them up close from the floating underwater observatory which gives unequalled below-the-surface views. The park runs three manatee programs which are presented throughout the day and give visitors the opportunity to learn more about them.

Perhaps you would like to swim with manatees, and see them really, really close up? This is available at Homosassa Springs. Snorkelling is the best way to see them, and going early in the morning is usually when the tours begin as the manatees are more active at that time of day.

Blue Spring State Park, near Orange City, is a beautiful 2, 644 acre area of natural Florida. It is a designated manatee refuge and provides safe warm water for the numerous creatures during the winter season (from mid-November until March). Temperatures in the spring run remain at a constant 72 degrees and allow manatees to survive during the cooler winter months. The best time to go and see them is early in the morning on a cold winter day, where you can watch them from a boardwalk along the spring run. As the water temperatures in the surrounding waters increase, so the manatees will leave the safe haven of Blue Springs until the next winter.

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