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: You Can Look, But Please Don’t Touch, Chase, Feed, or Give Manatees Water.
For their own protection, wild animals need to stay wild to survive.
Each year, 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 sign our petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make the less than one-acre Three Sisters Springs a true winter sanctuary for manatees. Remember that 600 acres of Kings Bay will remain open for in-water viewing opportunities.
Manatee advocate and underwater photographer Tracy Colson documents the wonderful views of natural manatee behavior that snorklers can get by practicing passive observation or observing from a distance: 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.
Watch our video with tips on how to have a positive experience when paddling near manatees and how to best protect them.
Get the Tips!
Watch Manatee Webcams
If you aren’t able to see manatees in person, you can also view them on our Blue Spring Webcams.
To See Manatees Living In The Wild:
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. Manatees need warm water to survive. In spite of their size, they have relatively little body fat, and their metabolic rate is low compared to other marine mammals. Water temperatures that fall below 21° C (70° F) cause manatees to move into warm water refuge areas. Click the links below for more information for each viewing area.
Manatee Observation & Education Center
480 North Indian River Drive
Fort Pierce, FL 34950
Manatee Lagoon – FPL Eco-Discovery Center
6000 N. Flagler Drive
West Palm Beach, FL
Three Sisters Springs Boardwalk Tours
915 N. Suncoast Blvd
Crystal River, FL34429
Please Note: Viewing from the boardwalk is the best way to protect manatees in Three Sisters, which is a vital warm water refuge in the winter. Please watch the video and sign our petition
Tampa Electric Company
Manatee Viewing Center
6990 Dickman Rd
Apollo Beach, FL 33572
813-228-4289 for an information recording
Check out TECO’s Manatee Web Cam East and Manatee Web Cam West
See the Tampa Bay manatees in SMC’s Adopt-A-Manatee program
Lee County Manatee Park
10901 State Road 80 (Palm Beach Blvd.)
Fort Myers, FL 33905
To See Manatees Living In Captivity:
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.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S. Suncoast Boulevard
Homosassa, Florida 34446
See the Homosassa Springs manatees in SMC’s Adopt-A-Manatee program
ZooTampa at Lowry Park
Florida Manatee and Aquatic Center
1101 West Sligh Avenue
Tampa, FL 33604
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34236
Parker Manatee Aquarium
South Florida Museum
201 10th Street West, Bradenton, FL 34205
Manatee Critical Care Center
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
370 Zoo Parkway
Jacksonville, FL 32218
Note: The Manatee Critical Care Center is not an exhibit, but the recovery pool can seen by visitors because of its proximity to the zoo’s Wild Florida exhibit. The center will provide limited and periodic views of manatees for zoo guests and offer behind-the-scenes tours. However, there may be times manatees are not present in the pools.
4400 Rickenbacker Causeway
Key Biscayne, FL 33149
Please Note: Sharing this information does not constitute an endorsement of the facilities.