Red Tide and If You Will See Manatees
March 9, 2023
The two questions we have been getting the most this busy season is if red tide is affecting our area, and if manatees will be seen this time of year. I am here to tell you the good news...no to red tide and yes to manatees!!!
We are located in Port of the Island's Marina which is six miles up river from the Gulf of Mexico. This time of year, the manatees take haven from the colder waters and live up in our area for the fresh drinking water and warmer temperatures. Our water is warmer due to it being brackish with a muddy bottom, which holds heat better than a sandy bottom like the Gulf. What this means is that it is the best time of year to see the manatees. We have counted up to 15 in our area at one time. While manatees are always on the move, we can pretty much guarantee you will see one on your adventure! To make you feel even better, we track our trips, and since January 1, 2023, our success rate is 97% for seeing manatees. If nature happens to be difficult at the day and time of your tour and you do not see a manatee, you get to come back for free!
As for the red tide, this goes hand in hand with our location. Because we are six miles upriver from the Gulf and protected by mangroves, we have not been affected by the red tide. It is mostly seen on Marco Island and central/north Naples. We are actually further south and east than Marco Island and have no signs of it in our area. So you can rest assured that when you book our adventures, even our 3 hour Manatee, Dolphin and 10,000 Islands Eco Tour that goes to the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, that you will not come across any red tide.
We hope that this alleviates any concerns and that you will join us for one of our four ways to see manatees! We know that our captains can put on a great experience for you and that you will enjoy the sights and sounds of the Everglades and southwest Florida. So what are you waiting for... let's go see some manatees!
Where to See Manatees in Florida
February 8, 2023
Manatees are Florida's state marine mammal and they are often found on both the East and West coast of Florida throughout the year. So, where is the best place to see manatees in Florida? Well that depends on where you are visiting and the time of year. The migration pattern of manatees determines where to see them during certain parts of the year. As the air and water temperature rises, the manatees tend to move north. As it declines, they flee south to warmer waters. Kind of like snowbirds! Manatees can't survive in water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter months, they take haven in warm rivers and springs. This bodes well for seeing manatees in southwest Florida!
In the Port of the Islands located in Naples, Florida, you will find the Faka Union Canal which is a 6 mile river leading to the 10,000 Islands and the Gulf of Mexico. The canal is brackish water which provides fresh drinking water and warmer temperatures all year around. Because of this, it is the perfect home for manatees! During the winter months, they live in the canals of the Port to stay warm. During the summer months, they travel out to the Gulf but still return for fresh drinking water and food. Unlike some places, the Port of Islands is home to manatees all year round, not just in the winter.
We are lucky to have these perfect living conditions for the manatees. There aren't many other spots close by that manatees call home. While some have heard of seeing them by the Fort Myers power plant, they aren't there during the summer. The next closest manatee sanctuary is almost 4 hours away in Crystal River. So as for southwest Florida, the Port of the Islands in Naples is the place to see Manatees!
A bonus is that you will see them in the wild, in their natural habitat. Our boat tour ethically views the manatees by trolling motor which allows us to get close to them without harming them. Watch as they swim along the mangroves and come up every 5 minutes or so to breathe. It is a truly magical encounter! And maybe you'll even see a mama and her calf, a truly breathtaking sight.
If you're looking to see manatees in Florida, look no further and visit us at Manatee Sightseeing and Wildlife Adventures in Naples, Florida. See manatees or come back for free!
Why our Adventure is Special...and Why You Should Choose Us!
January 10, 2023
There are plenty of tour operators to choose from in the Naples and Marco Island area. With the beauty that southwest Florida has to offer, your options are endless. You can see the area by boat, bike, Segway, foot, trolley and more. So why choose us?
First and foremost, we are the only tour in the area that focuses on and sees manatees year around. If your main desire is to get up close to these gentle sea cows, we are the excursion for you.
But for many travelers, they are looking for a more broad experience. Whether it's the wildlife or ecology you are into, there are plenty of options that provide experiences for both. However, based on what you want to see, how close you want to get, and the atmosphere you want to experience it in will determine which provider you go with.
So here is a short list of what you may see when you choose us:
4. Bull Shark
6. Sea turtles
Where you will see it:
1. Everglades National Park
2. Amongst the mangroves
3. Port of the Island's Harbor/Canals
3. Ten Thousand Islands (Beach Eco and Sunset tour only)
4. Whitehorse Key (Beach Eco and Sunset tour only)
Here is the atmosphere in which you will experience this wildlife and ecosystem:
1. On a covered boat.
2. Deck boat similar to a pontoon which means comfortable seating and space to move around.
3. No waves or loud noises- which means no chance of getting sea sick and all ages are welcome! (unlike airboats).
4. Max 6 passengers per boat (multiple boats for large groups) - this allows for a semi private experience (option to make it private) as well as the chance to get as close to the wildlife as possible. There are only 3 ways to safely view a manatee: by land, with a paddle, and with an electric trolling motor. Our 22 foot boats can be operated with these trolling motors which allow us to get the manatees right up to the boat. You won't find a larger boat or another tour company that can get as close as we do! Because of this, we can only take 6 passengers per boat but take multiple boats out and keep them close together for parties larger than 6.
5. With a USCG certified captain that will teach you about the local wildlife and ecosystem.
6. With your choice of beverage in hand-all food and drink including alcohol is permitted!
7. With polarized sunglasses and camera lenses for your phones to take awesome pictures!
So while we know there are a lot of great tour options out there, there aren't any other ones that focus on seeing manatees and that can get up close and personal with the manatees. Additionally, there are very few that take all ages and can guarantee no waves or loud noises suitable for your infant child and your great grandma! (We are even ADA accessible and dog friendly!)
We hope this helps in deciding if our adventure is right for you and your family. And at the end of the day we want you to have the best vacation experience as possible! Whoever you choose to go with, we know you will have fun in the sun in our beautiful southwest Florida!
When is the Best Time to See Manatees?
December 7, 2022
One of our most common questions is, "When is the best time to see the manatees?" While this answer varies based on the day, we will explain how we come up with an answer so that you can informatively choose your adventure!
First and foremost, we are the only company in the world that sees manatees year around in the wild! Why is this? Our tours take place 6.5 miles up river from the Gulf of Mexico in the Faka Union Canal. The Fakahatchee fresh water river empties out over a dam into the Faka Union Canal. This makes our water in the Port of the Island's brackish. This fresh drinking water attracts the manatees year around! They cannot survive without fresh water to drink.
Another reason they take haven in our canal is for the warmth. The bottom of the Faka Union Canal is muddy vs. sandy like the Gulf of Mexico. A muddy bottom holds heat better than a sandy bottom. Because of this, they seek the warmer water between November-April. Fun fact: manatees cannot survive in water below 68 degrees Fahrenheit!
So, we have two factors on our side that produce manatee sightings year around: fresh water and warmer temperatures!
Now, based on seasons, the rumor is true that manatees are more abundant in the winter months. Most places, you will only be able to see the manatees for a few months when the water temperature dips. What this means for us is that we just see an influx of the number of manatees. No matter what time of year you come, our success rate of seeing manatees is over 90%. But if you are here in the winter months, you will see a higher number of manatees.
Many people call to inquire about what time is best to see manatees on a particular day. There are two factors in play here: daylight, and the tides. The best viewing happens when the sun is the highest which typically tends to fall during our 10 am, 11:30 am and 1 pm tours. Manatees are also more easily seen 2 hours before and 2 hours after the peak of an incoming tide. They float in with the tide to conserve energy...talk about working smarter not harder! So, we recommend checking for the incoming tide on the day of your desired trip, and then comparing it with the daylight to choose the best tour for you.
We hope this information helps in deciding which time to choose for your manatee sightseeing adventure. Regardless of what you choose, remember, our success rate is over 90% and we will try our hardest to get you up close to manatees, alligators, birds and bull shark! While wildlife is unpredictable and cannot be guaranteed, we promise that if you do not see a manatee on your adventure, you get to come back for free.
So go ahead and book your manatee adventure for an experience you'll only find here in the beautiful Everglades of Naples, Florida!
Which is the best tour for me?
November 8, 2022
Wondering which tour you should choose? Confused as to which one would be the best bang for your buck? Worry no more! Here is a breakdown of what happens on each tour along with specifics on who would like each adventure the most!
-Chance of seeing a manatee!
-Are on covered boats.
-Seat 6 passengers per boat for a more personal experience (we take multiple boats for parties larger than 6).
-There are no waves or rough waters! Great for kids and seniors.
-All ages are welcome.
-Polarized sunglasses are provided!
-Narrated by a USCG certified captain with extensive knowledge on southwest Florida's ecosystem.
-Drinks, snacks and alcohol allowed
1.5 hour Manatee Sightseeing Tour: This is our most popular tour with an over 90% success rate for seeing manatees! Jump on board as we explore the Port of the Island's harbor and cruise along the edge of the Everglades. We usually see manatees, alligators, bull sharks in the shallows, and many different species of birds. Our primary focus however, is seeing how many manatees we can find in an hour and a half. If your priority is the chubby mermaid, then this is the tour for you!
3 hour Manatee, Dolphin and 10,000 Islands Beach Eco Tour: This is a more all inclusive tour which explores the Everglades and the 10,000 Islands! We begin with a shortened version of our manatee tour, but then head out through the Everglades to the 10,000 Islands where we beach the boat at Whitehorse key. You have about 45 minutes on the uninhabited island for shelling and swimming! We cruise around a bit looking for dolphins and sea turtles. On a perfect day, we hope to see manatees, alligators, bull sharks, birds, dolphins and sea turtles. This is the adventure for the one who wants a little bit of all that southwest Florida's eco system has to offer! The boat will pick up speed but there will be no waves or rough waters.
3 hour Manatee, Dolphin and 10,000 Islands Sunset Cruise: This is the only sunset cruise in the area with a chance of seeing a manatee! We begin with a shortened version of our manatee tour and then head out through the Everglades to the 10,000 Islands. We cruise around searching for dolphins and sea turtles as we learn the history of the 10,000 islands and watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Looking for a more romantic way to wind down your day? This is the option for you!
2.5 hour or 5 hour Kids and family fishing: Join us for some Everglades backwater fishing with the best captain and first mate around! Captain Jimmy and First Mate Virginia (a husband and wife team) will teach you and the kids everything you need to know from how to cast a line, to old pirate tales of the 10,000 Islands. Whether you have tons of experience or none, they will tailor the trip to your family! We also often see manatees and alligators on the way to our fishing spots. The captain can customize the adventure to whatever you and the kids desire to do. For our 5 hour half day trip, we can go offshore to try and catch dinner. Anything that's worth keeping, captain will filet for you! All licensing, bait and equipment included. Just bring the smiles and we'll provide the fun!
With 4 options to choose from, and a chance of seeing a manatee on every tour, there's an adventure for everyone! Checkout our FAQ section or give us a call at 239.642.8818 if you have any additional questions.
We look forward to seeing you out there for some wildlife fun!
Manatees and Mangroves Post Hurricane Ian
October 26, 2022
Manatees and Mangroves Post Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian plowed its way through southwest Florida in late September. It was one of the
most devastating hurricanes to hit the area. Many tourists and locals concern lie within
recovery and if there will still be a tourist season. Can the beaches reopen? Will restaurants
renovate in time? Are there still sights to see and things to do? The answer is absolutely yes.
And as for the Everglades eco system, it was among the luckiest.
Manatee Sightseeing and Wildlife Adventures departs in the Everglades from Port of the
Island’s marina at 525 Newport Drive, Naples, Florida. It is located about 20 minutes east on 41
from the Collier and 41 intersections. The Port is on the very southern end of Naples which
bode well when it came to Hurricane Ian.
Storm surge reached an all-time high with flooding across 41, a road that typically does not
endure this type of devastation. But as for wind, the Port was primarily protected. Mangroves
are intact and as beautiful and green as ever. There weren’t any boats that were even damaged
during the storm. Because the Port lies 6 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico, it was
somewhat barricaded from the worst of it. So, when you visit us in the Everglades, you can rest
assured that it will feel like the southwest Florida you always knew, lush and peaceful.
As for the wildlife, manatees, dolphins, alligators, sea turtles, bull sharks, and an abundant
number of birds have already been spotted post Ian. The surge has receded and the eco system
is back to normal. Manatees remain swimming up the canal for fresh water and sea grass.
Alligators are sun bathing with no care in the world. Dolphins have been playing in our wakes.
And the birds have all returned from the summer hiatus up north.
So, when you book an adventure with Manatee Sightseeing and Wildlife Adventures, you will
escape to a world where everything remains as it should be. We are very fortunate that our
piece of paradise came out unscathed. We’d love to share it with you as a glimpse of hope for
the return of southwest Florida.
For photos of our recent wildlife sightings, checkout our Facebook and Instagram
For bookings and inquiries, visit see-manatees.com or call 239-642-8818.
We look forward to bringing happiness and light this season while things return to normal.
The Eating Habits of Herbivorous Manatees
September 28, 2021
If you have traveled along the coast of Florida, you may have seen a manatee grazing and wondered about what they are eating and how they find their food and chew it. Manatees are herbivores and feed almost exclusively on plants that grow in fresh and saltwater environments.
Freshwater plants include hyacinth, pickerelweed, alligator weed, water lettuce, hydrilla, water celery, and musk grass. Saltwater plants include sea grasses, shoal grass, manatee grass, turtle grass, widgeon grass, sea clover, and marine algae.
Manatees eat an average of 100-200 pounds of sea grasses and weeds each day. They large herbivores graze on the grasses and weeds for up to seven hours each day, ultimately consuming about 10 – 15% of their body weight.
Manatees use their two front flippers to pull or collect plants toward them. They also use their flippers to coast along the sandy bottom and dig for roots in the sand. The flippers scoop of vegetation and carry it to their mouths.
Manatees have prehensile lips, which means the upper lip is split so that the left and right sides can move almost independently. The lips use seven different muscles to tear away at the plants and the front flippers and well-muscled lips then guide the plants to their mouth.
Manatees do not have front teeth, but behind the lips, on the roof of the mouth, a manatee has ridged pads, which (along with the lower jaw) tear through the sea grass and then allow bite-sized pieces to go into their teeth for grinding.
The manatee has four rows of teeth twenty-four to thirty-two rough-textured teeth, which allow them to chew and grind vegetation.
Manatees No Longer on Endangered List
September 21, 2021
Earlier this year, manatees were officially removed from the endangered list. An increase in the overall manatee populations and much needed improvements to their habitats steered the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to downgrade protections for the species from “endangered” to “threatened.” Although this is certainly good news, it has left some feeling a little nervous that the guard will come down and levels of carelessness when it comes to manatees will once again rise.
The Center for Biological diversity stated that 2016 was the deadliest year thus far for manatees. “Manatees are still in danger. With ongoing threats posed by boat strikes and habitat loss, we don’t support reducing protections,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director for the center, according to USA Today.
Though the note to remain cautious remains, the downgrade marks an important breakthrough. Approximately 13,000 manatees currently live throughout parts of the Caribbean and the southeastern portion of the United States. The species is divided equally between the Antillean manatee and the Florida manatee. This number strongly contrasts the population of years in the past when it sadly appeared that manatees might be headed towards extinction. The current approximate population of the Florida manatees alone is 6,620, which also represents a dramatic turnaround from the 1970s when only a few hundred Florida manatees remained, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The manatee was first placed on the endangered species list in 1973.
“Today we both recognize the significant progress we have made in conserving manatee populations while reaffirming our commitment to continuing this species’ recovery and success throughout its range,” said Jim Kurth, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, decides which animals need to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Federal protections are to remain in place for manatees.
When the announcement of their removal from the endangered list was made, many criticized the move, including Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., who said, “The decision to weaken protections under the Endangered Species Act threatens the survival of the manatee, one of Florida’s most beloved animals.” “It needs to be reversed,” added Buchanan.
Manatees face a range of threats to their existence, including being injured and/or killed by watercrafts, loss of habitat, and red time, Buchanan pointed out.
Environmental groups also expressed their dismay with the decision. “We believe this is a devastating blow to manatees,” said Patrick Rose, Executive Director of the Save the Manatees Club. “A federal reclassification at this time will seriously undermine the changes of securing the manatee’s long-term survival,” added Rose.
With great attention to these concerns, a vast amount of respect for manatees and their existence, and great care, Manatee Eco Tours out of Naples allows visitors to view these beautiful animals in their habitats, safe from harm, and is dedicated to sharing their knowledge about these wonderful creatures and how important it is to keep them safe.