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. When viewing manatees in their natural habitat, it’s important to respect their space and follow best practices to keep manatees safe.

Kayakers demonstrate the best way to view manatees in the wild
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.


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.


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Before viewing manatees in the wild, please read:

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 70° F (21° C) cause manatees to move into warm water refuge areas. Click the links below for more information for each viewing area.

Guardian Guides

Look for the Guardian Guides Logo

When choosing an ecotour to see manatees, look for participants in the Guardian Guides program. This is a voluntary recognition and education program offered to ecotourism providers in Florida that promotes stewardship of manatees and their aquatic ecosystems. Viewing manatees from a boardwalk or observation deck is also an excellent way to protect manatees.


To See Manatees Living In Human Care:

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 rehabilitation facilities. Click the links below for more information for each viewing area. Note: Due to Covid-19, please check with the facilities before you visit to make sure they are open.

Watch Manatee Webcams

If you aren’t able to see manatees in person, you can also view them on our Webcams at Blue Spring State Park and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Please Note: Sharing this information does not constitute an endorsement of the facilities.