Kayakers demonstrate the best way to view manatees in the wild: from a distance. Please don't touch manatees or give them food or water.
Florida manatees are found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, bays, estuaries and coastal water ecosystems of the southeastern United States. They can live in fresh, brackish, or salt water. Manatees prefer waters that are about one to two meters (3-7 feet) deep. Along the coast, manatees tend to travel in water that is about three to five meters (10-16 feet) deep, and they are rarely seen in areas over six meters (20 feet) deep. This habitat provides them with sheltered living and breeding areas, a steady, easily obtainable food supply and warm water -- all of which they need to survive.
Remember to Look, But Don't Touch For their own protection, wild animals need to stay wild to survive.
Endangered manatees travel to the warm springs of Kings Bay, in Florida's Citrus County, to survive the cold winters. Upon their arrival, they are rebuffed by thousands of humans whose aggressive behaviors deny them access to or chase them from these critically important warm-water refuges. Please watch the video and go to http://www.ThreeSistersSprings.org to sign a petition to make Three Sisters Springs a true manatee sanctuary.
Prelude No. 16 (Chris Zabriskie http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Chris_Zabriskie/) / CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
The Temperature of the Air on the Bow of the Kaleetan (Chris Zabriskie http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Chris_Zabriskie/) / CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Passive Observation Video: In contrast, manatee advocate and underwater photographer Tracy Colson documents the wonderful views of natural manatee behavior that snorklers can get by practicing passive observation: float on the surface, be still and quiet, and keep your hands to yourself. The video includes beautiful footage of resting manatees, a manatee doing a barrel roll, and more.
There are lots of places in Florida to observe manatees. In the winter when the weather is cooler, generally November through March, you might be able to see manatees in the wild, clustered around warm water sources. Click the links below for more information for each viewing area.
If the weather is warmer, manatees are more widely dispersed. A few manatees may range as far north as Massachusetts and as far west as Texas during the summer months, but these sightings are rare. Summer sightings in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina are relatively common. From April through October, you will probably only be able to see manatees at captive facilities. Click the links below for more information for each viewing area.