Saturday, February 20, 2016

Crystal River Manatees ... The Other Florida Snowbirds

We are spending two weeks in Crystal River, Florida. We became intrigued with this town years ago when we brought our boys to Florida during spring break. We were drawn to Crystal River to search out the Manatees, who "winter" in the warm headsprings in the area. Unfortunately in the past, our visits had been at the beginning of April when most of the manatees had ventured back to the Gulf.

This year we are thrilled to join the human "snowbirds" at Rock Crusher Canyon RV Park and the Manatee "snowbirds" at Crystal River Wildlife Refuge ... both who gather in large numbers from about November 1 through April 1. 

As the Gulf of Mexico's water temperature drops in the winter the manatees, who are unable to tolerate water colder than 68 degrees, are drawn to the Crystal RiverThe headsprings keep the water in this haven at a comfortable (for manatees) 72 degrees year round. The US Fish and Wildlife Service created the Crystal River Wildlife Refuge to protect the endangered Florida manatee. Seeing these gentle, slow moving herbivores in their winter habitat has long been on RVenture "to do" list.

There are three main ways to view the manatees that gather in Three Sisters Spring.

The first is to stop at the Citrus County Welcome Center and buy a $15 ticket to ride the trolley to the newly constructed boardwalk above the Three Sister Springs. 

The next is to rent a kayak or pontoon and get a chance to see them closer ... and possibly have them glide underneath your watercraft. Many companies in the area also offer guided tours.

Our tandem kayak was able to take us closer to the action! It was fun to see the flapping fins as the manatees played in their winter wonderland.

 But, I realized that Doug will not be satisfied with seeing these gentle giants from a distance for long ... 

So we donned the wetsuit, goggles, snorkel and fins ...

and jumped right in!

We were happy that our underwater camera still worked, and were able to capture some of the beauty of these docile sea creatures.

The success of the Crystal River Refuge is becoming evident as the numbers of manatees are increasing. It was fun to see many mama manatees with baby closely following!

Until next time ... hang out with some wildlife ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Print this post


  1. You guys are so adventuresome! That must have been an incredible encounter! Thanks for sharing your underwater photos! I felt like I was swimming along with you.

    1. If it isn't already, put "swimming with the manatees" on your RV travel adventure list. It is really incredible! We rented a pontoon today and found a very friendly one who hung by us for quite a while. So fun!