Winter in Florida is Manatee season. Thankfully this does not mean hunting season, but appreciation season. The Florida manatees bring in millions of tourist dollars each year and they are fully protected.
Despite their protection, they are still at risk from boat hits.
Homosassa river and Chrystal river are the most famous for their winter manatee populations, but they are throughout the Florida spring systems. The Gulf of Mexico cools in winter to the point where the warm-blooded mammals cannot survive, so they swim up the warm springs.
Manatees can survive in both fresh and salt water, but they must drink fresh water.
Interacting with manatees is a real pleasure because they sometimes seek out your attention. They want you to scratch their bellies and remove some algae from their backs.
These photos were taken at Homosassa Springs in central Florida. Thank you to Mike Abston of Scuba Safari’s for getting me where I needed to be for the shots! Check out their website and get in contact with Mike if you would like to swim with and appreciate these wonderful creatures yourself! http://scuba-safaris.net/Index.asp