San José State University
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
& Tornado Alley

Where Human May Swim with Manatees

On the western coast of Florida north of Tampa Bay there are two areas of warm springs, Crystal River and Kings Bay. In the winter time numerous manatees congregate there to enjoy the warmer water. Fifty to sixty manatees remain there in the summertime.

Everywhere else in Florida it is against the law to disturb the manatees. They are an endangered species. There are only about six thousand surviving. But thanks to laws protecting them from motor boaters and other dangers the numbers are up from the 1267 that existed in 1991.

Humans subject to restrictions on their behavior are allowed to swim in the waters occupied by manatees at Crystal River and Kings Bay. There are numerous tour-group companies which educate the tourists on proper behavior concerning the manatees and how to find them. Aside from directly spotting them visually the tourists are instructed to look for rings of waves that result from a manatee lifting its head or tail out of the water. Bubbles may also reveal where a manatee is located.

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