So Where do you Find a Florida Manatee?

December 12, 2021

The manatee, Florida’s gentle giant, also known as the “sea cow” can be spotted in the largest numbers during the winter and early spring. When water temperatures dip below 68 degrees manatees gravitate towards warmer waters making Florida’s 72-degree freshwater springs an ideal respite for the warm-blooded mammals. The added benefit is that we can observe them in the clear water.

Manatees are often found congregating around bubbly springs, within state and marine water parks, or near power plants where the outflow of warm water keeps their body temperatures constant. Now is a good time to look for these true Florida natives, because as summer approaches, these endearing creatures will scatter.

Manatees are related to the elephant, with grayish thick, leathery wrinkled skin. Propelled by huge powerful tails but slow swimmers, they lumber along quietly through Florida’s waterways. If you look you can find them year around in Florida but it is much easier in cooler months when large numbers cluster near the temperate water.

As herbivores, manatees usually dine on marine and freshwater plants, grazing along grass flats and aquatic meadows, surfacing for air while breathing through their whiskered nostrils. These gentle creatures are definitely heavyweights, tipping the scales anywhere between than 1,000-3,500 pounds and consuming up to ten percent of their body weight in marine vegetation each day. The females give birth to calves typically weighing more than 60 pounds as they nurse under water.

So where do you find a Florida manatee?

There are various places to see our state’s unique underwater mammals. Some locations have platforms where visitors may observe from lookout decks. Many parks have created boardwalks adjacent to waterways where manatees can be seen in mass.

We offer outdoor adventure trips with a special focus on manatee trips by boat where adventurers can get a very close look at manatees. There are strict rules about keeping a safe distance from the official marine mammal of the State of Florida and our experts are familiar with these rules, while ensuring you the best possible view of them. Our expert guides are trained to spot the enormous creatures while providing information about how to both observe and protect these endangered species.

Manatee Eco-Tours out of Naples is the only sightseeing tour company in the world that offers and stands by it’s NO SEE-NO PAY guarantee. We offer an informative 90-minute tour that will allow you to see manatees in their natural habitat. It is very likely to also see other types of wildlife, such as alligators, egrets, dolphins, sea turtles and other animals that are indigenous to the area during the tours. The tours take you and your group to the Faka Union Canal, which is part of the Port of the islands and the 10,000 islands.

Florida Tourism Hits Record High

December 12, 2021

Just recently, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another tourism record by welcoming the highest number of visitors of any nine months in the state's history with 88.2 million visitors. This represents a 3.3 percent increase over the 85.4 million visitors from the same period in 2016. This includes 77.6 million domestic visitors, 7.9 million overseas visitors and 2.7 million Canadians visitors. Governor Scott made the announcement at Azucar Ice Cream Company, a locally-owned ice cream boutique that has been nationally recognized as one of Little Havana's top tourist destinations.

Governor Scott said, "Today, I am proud to announce that Florida has continued our record breaking success by welcoming more than 88 million visitors to our state over the first nine months of the year. Florida has had three record quarters in 2017, which would not be possible without our relentless work to market Florida as the top tourism destination. This includes VISIT FLORIDA's aggressive marketing efforts to make sure families across the world knew that Florida was open for tourism following Hurricane Irma. We will work with the Legislature to invest $100 million for VISIT FLORIDA this upcoming session to continue this success and make sure Florida can continue to break tourism records."

VISIT FLORIDA estimates that a record 27.9 million visitors traveled to Florida in the third quarter of 2017 (July-September), an increase of 3.3 percent over the same period last year. This Q3 number breaks down to 24.9 million domestic visitors, 2.6 million overseas visitors and 428,000 Canadian visitors coming to the Sunshine State. Total enplanements at Florida's 18 major airports in Q3 2017 increased 2.4 percent over the same period the previous year, with 20 million passengers. The number of hotel rooms sold in Florida during quarter three of 2017 grew by 4.7 percent compared to quarter three 2016. During the same period, Florida's average daily room rate (ADR) increased by 3.0 percent and occupancy by 2.9 percent.

During a recent press conference, it was also shared that back-to-back-to-back record quarters in the first nine months of this year show the Florida tourism industry has great momentum. VISIT FLORIDA has vowed to continue to be at the forefront of creating leading-edge, original marketing programs for our industry partners in order to make Florida the number one vacation destination in the world.

To view additional Florida visitor data, go the Research page on VISIT FLORIDA's media website.

Give Mating Manatees the Space They Need

December 12, 2021

Female manatees know what it is like to be sought after — perhaps they feel a little too sought after. If you ever see what appears to be a large herd of manatees huddled together in the water, experts said they are likely mating. For every one female manatee, biologists said there can be up to 25 male manatees surrounding her, drawn to her pheromones.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tweeted out a reminder to be mindful of mating manatees. Earlier last year, the FWC produced a video featuring manatee biologist Kane Rigney explaining just how exhausting manatee mating season can be for the females of the species.

“There are a large number manatees that look to be frolicking with each other in shallow waters, generally climbing on top of each other,” Rigney said in the video.

They’re basically fighting over the one “focal” female.

Manatees have a long mating period that starts in the spring around March and can extend all the way to November.

Boaters could see a mating group of manatees in deeper waters and beachgoers could spot them on the shoreline. In recent years, a group of mating manatees stopped traffic near the Courtney Campbell Causeway as drivers gawked at the sight.

Sometimes, Rigney said, the manatees get close to shore because the female manatees will resort to trying to beach themselves to get away from the intense male attention.

Anyone who comes upon a group of mating manatees should leave them alone and keep their distance, Rigney said. Interfering with their mating habits could be considered harassment — it could also prove to be dangerous.

“Manatees mating have one thing in mind when they’re mating,” he said.

Manatee Season Has Begun

December 12, 2021


Manatee season started November 15 and runs through to March 31. As air and water temperatures drop, manatees begin moving south for warmer water refuge, and slower seasonal speed limits go into effect. Boaters are cautioned to be on the lookout for greater numbers of manatees moving into the waterways. When the weather is cold, the majority of manatees can be found in the warm-water refuges. When temperatures are warm, manatees move into surrounding canals and the Intracoastal Waterway to forage, increasing the chance of manatee/boater interaction.

Boaters should be aware that many seasonal manatee protection zones go into effect throughout the state on November 15 and run thru March 31. For information about manatee protection zones by county, including seasonal changes, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website and click on “Data and Maps.” At the bottom of the page there is information on FWC Manatee COLD-weather changes to speed zones.

Statewide, 86 manatees were killed by boats in 2015 with one of those deaths occurring in Broward County. From January through October 2016, 89 manatees were killed by boats in Florida.

Manatees can be difficult to see as they often swim and rest just below the water’s surface. To avoid striking manatees, vessel operators should obey all posted speed limits, wear polarized sunglasses to help spot them in the water, and watch for the large, telltale circular slicks on the surface of the water (manatee “footprints”) that indicate the presence of manatees.

If you see a sick, injured, or deceased manatee, contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Number at (888) 404-FWCC (3922), *FWC or # FWC on a cell phone, or text tip@myfwc.com. It is very helpful to have the following information to help support manatee protection:

–  What is the exact location of the manatee?
–  Is the manatee alive?
–  How long have you been observing it?
–  What is the approximate size?
–  What is the location of the closest public boat ramp to the manatee?
–  Can you provide a contact number where you can be reached for further information?