If you are wondering if you can swim with manatees, here is what I found out!
Yes, you can swim with manatees. Manatees are one of nature's wonders that are just a beauty to watch. After seeing a video about these large giants, you might have imagined what it would be like swimming with them in their natural habitat.
The experience of swimming with manatees is one-of-a-kind. The animal's superior strength, elegance, and attractive looks make it an animal that everyone should see up close at least once in their lifetime.
In this article, I will share with you some of the amazing things I found out about swimming with wild manatees in Florida. Get ready to swim because, by the time you are done, you will be on your way to the nearest manatee encounter Florida.
Is it Safe to Swim with Manatees?
Yes, it is safe to swim with manatees. Manatees are herbivores, and despite their enormous size which is why some people may wonder, are manatees dangerous, but the answer is that they are not.
They have no natural enemies, and as a result, they do not possess any natural defense mechanisms. The only thing that could agitate a manatee is if something gets in the way of a mother or father with their young, but they would rather just swim around it.
Teething is a natural process for manatees, and as their front teeth become overgrown, they may resort to chewing on a rope or a line, but this poses no danger.
The best part is that almost all manatee-swimming waters are shallow. So, even if you're not the best swimmer, swimming with manatees in Florida will still be fun and safe. Plus, manatees swim slowly and cautiously, so there won’t be any collisions.
When Can You Swim with Manatees?
Can you swim with manatees? The answer is yes. But can you swim with manatees any time of the year? Well, the answer to that question is not quite.
Ideally, the colder months of the year are the ideal times to get close to manatees in their natural habitat. Between December and March, when winter is at its coldest, large groups of manatees will leave the chilly waters of the ocean to seek refuge in the warmer waters found in the Springs of Florida.
If you are looking for a manatee encounter near me, the best tip is to keep an eye on the forecast for Florida's weather. If you notice that there has been a particularly severe cold spell in the Gulf of Mexico, then you can be certain that the manatees have sought safety in the springs. When the temperatures of the ocean water begin to rise again in the spring, manatees will begin to move back into the coastal waters along the gulf and east coasts of the United States.
If you go during the summer months, there is a small chance of encountering some manatees, but not nearly as many as during the high season.
Where Can You Swim With Manatees?
Manatees are spread across the warm waters of Florida. Despite the fact that they are almost everywhere in Florida, Citrus County is the only place in the state of Florida where it is legal to swim with manatees.
Citrus County is approximately two hours northwest of Orlando and approximately 90 minutes to the north of Tampa on the Gulf coast.
Swimming with manatees is generally prohibited because they are endangered species. However, due to the fact that Citrus County's economy is dependent on manatee tourism, swimming with manatees is legally allowed in the area.
Crystal River and Homosassa are the two cities in Citrus County that allow visitors to interact with manatees. The most popular swimming spot for manatees in Florida is located in Crystal River and is known as King's Bay.
Here, as much as 10% of the state's total population of sea cows can be found at any given time. A natural spring known as Three Sisters Spring can also be found in this area. During the winter months, manatees congregate here in large numbers.
There are Rules for Swimming with Manatees
While you are allowed to swim with manatees in Citrus County, there are a few rules to follow while swimming with these wonderful creatures. These environmental protection rules are there to ensure that the manatees are safe and can escape extinction.
The rules are explained in a video uploaded on YouTube by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service titled Manatee Manners. In the eight minutes long video, the commission discusses the 12 actions that are not allowed when swimming with manatees.
For instance, you risk getting arrested if you ride on a manatee, despite the fact that it might seem like it would make a good photo for your Instagram feed. Also, the commission strongly urges visitors to engage in something that is known as passive observation. The term means to watch the manatees at the water's surface from a safe distance.
The following are some additional things that you must avoid while swimming while on a manatee encounter Florida:
• Avoid causing annoyance or physical contact with the manatees
• Do not chase a manatee
• Do not touch any equipment or tags attached to a study manatee
• Do not enclose or encircle a manatee in a corner
• Do not feed a manatee when on a dolphin and manatee encounter
• Avoid getting too close to the manatees, even if they are just lounging around
• Do not interfere with activities related to research
• Avoid stabbing, poking, or probing manatees with anything, including your hands and feet; this includes all other objects.
• Avoid riding, holding, squeezing, or grasping.
• Avoid stepping or standing directly on top of a manatee
• Avoid taking a mother and her calf, or a manatee, away from the rest of the group
Can You Swim with Manatees Without a Guide?
You can swim with Manatees without a guide so far; you do it legally and follow the rules. However, as a tourist, especially if you are visiting the region for the first time, you may not know where to go, how to find the manatees or have all the necessary equipment.
Both the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and the Kings Bay Manatee Refuge are big areas with restricted access. Therefore, investing the additional money to go with a guide will make the journey simpler, safer, and more productive.
Final Thoughts: Should You Swim with Manatees?
Yes, you should try swimming with Manatees. It's a lifetime experience that you will enjoy. In fact, nothing beats the feeling that comes with swimming with manatees in Florida. After swimming with these animals on your first manatee encounter Florida, you may not want to leave.
To swim with manatees in Florida, first, you need to understand the animals and listen to the rules. You'll need to know where to find them. When you figure out where they are in the water, enter in with them and start your swim.
When swimming among manatees in Florida, remember that you're in their area. These wonderful animals deserve respect and kindness. It might be tempting to pet them like a giant marine dog. However, it's best that you follow the rules and avoid touching, feeding, or manhandling the animals. Do not annoy these creatures or ride on their backs. Always treat animals how you'd like to be treated.