Spotting Manatees During Manatee Season

May 5, 2022

The Florida manatees you will see in Southwest Florida are a subspecies of West Indian manatees, which live in the waters around Florida, the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America. You may even see a female manatee, called a cow, with her baby, or calf. Male manatees are called bulls, but they do not have any kind of paternal presence after mating.

Since manatees have few natural predators and are not territorial, they are fairly solitary and do not need to travel in herds. They will, however, come together in informal groups when they need to share food sources or warm water – the latter of which brings them to the Southwest Florida area.

Although the thick, leathery skin of manatees may suggest otherwise, these docile creatures do not do well when water temperatures dip below 68 ̊F. They are prone to a cold-related disease called cold stress syndrome, which can prove to be fatal.

When the water starts to cool, hundreds of manatees seek shelter along the shores of South Florida.

Southwest Florida is an excellent place to enjoy the animals in a non-captive environment. We host boat tours, which will take you up close and personal to where the manatees will typically be found and you can greet an entire group of manatees from atop the boat while exploring the area and other beautiful natural wildlife that the area has to offer.

The serene waters create a haven for manatees, giving you a unique opportunity to encounter the creatures.

Florida manatees are enormous mammals and should be treated as such. They are peaceful creatures, but please keep your distance if you opt for paddle boarding and you paddle about, and do not travel over resting manatees because they could resurface at any time.

If you accidentally find yourself too close to a sea cow, just slowly paddle back until you are a safe distance away. All in all, if you give them space, avoid touching them and speak quietly in wildlife areas, you are bound to have an incredible manatee-viewing experience. It is never too early to plan your winter vacation – packed with sea cow sightings and an endless list of year-round adventures.

Florida Manatee season started on November 15 and runs through to March 31. As air and water temperatures have been dropping through cold fronts this year, manatees have moved south for warmer water refuge, and slower seasonal speed limits have gone 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.

When in the Naples, Florida area, taking a manatee sightseeing eco tour is a great way to enjoy a close view of Florida wildlife. Manatee Eco-Tours out of Naples is the only sightseeing tour company in the world that sees manatees everyday all year. 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.

Naples Manatee Eco-Tours

March 3, 2022


Naples Florida is a paradise for natural wildlife and home to some of the most unique ecosystems in the United States. Located on the Southwest portion of Florida, Naples has a great number of natural visitors, from alligators and big game fish to all kinds of aquatic wildlife. The real attraction is our resident manatees, as Southwest Florida is home to the one of the largest concentration of manatee in North America. We are also one of the only places in Florida where manatees are found year round!

Our eco-tours are designed to be a view of some of the world’s most beautiful natural habitats, with direct access to the beautiful creatures of the region. We take great care to preserve the natural beauty of the Naples, Florida coast that surrounds us, and our manatee population is no exception.

Come by and let us take you on a boat tour to see our family of Florida manatees. We have boats and tours leaving every day and our guides will take you to the manatees in the area, where you can see them playing and swimming in their natural habitat.

Ecotourism offers an opportunity for an increase in education and activism among travelers, making them more effective supporters of conservation.

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.

For more information about the Eco-Tours and manatee sightseeing tours available, please call us today.

Keeping Manatees Safe in Florida Waters

January 1, 2022

Living in harmony with the natural environment is a challenge in Florida, which has undergone more growth in human population and infrastructure than the majority of other regions throughout the United States. For several decades this growth has impacted indigenous plant and animal life through habitat loss or alteration, decreased water quality, increases in airborne pollutants, and introduction of invasive species. In the case of Florida manatees, habitat alteration has included harmful algal blooms such as red tide that have resulted in hundreds of sick and dead manatees. These blooms may be exacerbated by groundwater runoffs high in nitrates and phosphorus that are often caused by human activities including septic tank leakage and the use of manufactured fertilizers.

Manatees in Florida deal with motorized boat traffic throughout much of their range. Florida has about 2000 miles of complex coastline involving the Intracoastal Waterway, numerous rivers, creeks, canals, bays, lagoons, inlets, lakes, and coastal islands. Manatees are found in each of these habitats because they feed on a wide variety of aquatic vegetation. The number of registered boats in Florida has increased significantly along with the expanding human population, and is directly correlated with increasing manatee mortality from strikes by boats.

Studies of manatee hearing have been done on wild and captive manatees. In controlled experiments, manatees have been observed to detect and avoid single boats traveling at a variety of speeds, as long as they have adequate time to respond. However, the presence of many boats in one area generates a complicated mixture of sounds that make it difficult if not impossible to detect a specific boat that may pose a threat.

Reduced speed zones have been implemented at designated locations in 18 Florida counties, focused on areas where manatees are known to be abundant. They include portions of over 20 major rivers, but constitute only a very small fraction of the total amount of navigable waterways used by manatees in Florida.  Depending upon the specific location, restrictions include no entry, idle speed, slow speed, and 25, 30 or 35 mph limits. Some restrictions apply year-round, others during specific months.

The premise of establishing slow boat speed zones for manatee protection is that vessels moving at slower speeds allow both the vessel operator and the manatee more time to respond to avoid a collision. In the event that a collision occurs, less severe injuries occur if a vessel is moving at a slower speed. Even moderate reductions in the speed at which an impact occurs can dramatically lessen the potential for injuries or death since the resultant force of impact is reduced.

Several studies have found that only about 60% of boaters comply with posted slow speeds. Not surprisingly, the presence of law enforcement results in greater compliance. However, the number of marine patrol officers is very low compared to what would be needed to have a widespread effect on boater compliance. For now, low boater compliance and an increasing number of boats are two factors that contribute to sustained high numbers of manatees killed by boat strikes. Technological solutions have been proposed, including warning lights to notify boaters of manatees in an area, and sound beacons on boats to warn manatees of boaters in an area.

While traveling waterways known to have manatees it is important to follow speed limits and lookout for these majestic creatures. Have a dedicated spotter on board and looking for large shadows and circular wave patterns left on the surface of the water by the manatee’s tail. Polarized sunglasses help.

One of the pleasures of being in Florida is seeing manatees in their natural habitat, either from your boat, by kayak tour, or on a snorkeling trip. We are a responsible eco tour company that works to ensure that all human/manatee interaction is conducted in a safe, non-stressful, and considerate manner and we believe that we can increase safety for manatees by sharing our knowledge and sharing the beauty of the majestic manatees with you.

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.