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A Manatee Meet-Up: Watch Hundreds of Sea Cows Gather In Florida

What makes so many manatees gather in the same place, at the same time? Southwest Florida Water Management District posted spectacular drone footage of hundreds of manatees huddling together in Three Sister Springs, north of Tampa, Florida. 

The manatees swam together in a cozy ensemble as Florida experienced cooler than normal temperatures. Warm water is essential to the survival of the manatee, and Florida recently experienced temperatures of 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). It may not seem that cold to some of us, but it is very chilly indeed for the sea cow.  

The shoreline is part of The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, the only national wildlife refuge in the United States created to protect the Florida manatee, the state’s official marine mammal. The area is a safe habitat for manatees and was recently restored for their comfort. 

“This is a great demonstration of why the District recently restored the shoreline around Three Sisters Springs. The project repaired the eroded shoreline and will help prevent future erosion caused by manatee and human activity,” shared the Southwest Florida Water Management District in their post on Facebook. 

This weekend, Crystal River will host the Florida Manatee Festival, January 13-14. The festival features special boat trips and kayak tours, allowing guests to get up close to the manatees in their favorite hangout spots.

Image by Colors and Shapes of Underwater World

According to the Marine Mammal Commission, the Florida manatee is a subspecies of the West Indian manatee. These large, graceful mammals can weigh up to 1,200 lbs (545 kg) and they can live up to 60 years. They are herbivores and feed solely on seagrass. Currently listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, their habitats are at risk across Florida. Due to their slow-moving pace, they can be vulnerable to fishing boats and other vessels at sea. 

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