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.

Manatees No Longer on Endangered List

September 9, 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.

Enjoy a Manatee Eco Tour Out of Naples Florida

September 9, 2021


Florida’s state marine mammal, the Florida manatee, is related to the elephant. These grayish brown gentle animals use their front flippers to steer and their flat tails to help them move forward through the water. Manatees playing an extremely important part with regard to plant growth in shallow rivers, estuaries, bays and coastal waters where they live. Getting up close enough to see them is a special treat for visitors to the Sunshine state, as well as residents.

Manatees are herbivores and mostly feed on sea grasses and freshwater plants. They can be found in warmer waters and are rarely found in waters under 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Manatees live in Florida’s coastal waters during the winter season, though some migrate as far north as the Carolinas or as far west as Louisiana during the summer months. During the last few years, some manatees have been spotted as far north as Massachusetts.

Manatees are well known for their slow-cruising, gentle nature and have also been known to body surf when they are feeling a bit playful. They communicate through the use of squealing sounds under water, to convey feelings of excitement or fear. Baby manatees are born weighing approximately 60 to 70 pounds and measuring 3 to 4 feet in length and they nurse underwater.

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 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.