Manatees seek refuge from cold in Crystal River - WFLA News Channel 8

Manatees seek refuge from cold in Crystal River

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Hundreds of manatees have made their way to the warm spring waters of Crystal River. Hundreds of manatees have made their way to the warm spring waters of Crystal River.
Hundreds of manatees have made their way to the warm spring waters of Crystal River. Hundreds of manatees have made their way to the warm spring waters of Crystal River.
CRYSTAL RIVER, FL (WFLA) - With the drop in temperature, manatees in the gulf have made their way to the warm spring waters of Crystal River.

Two weeks ago, surveyors counted 400 manatees from Homosassa to Crystal River.

Ivan Vicente works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and says up to 100 more manatees could make their way to Crystal River before the end of the weekend.

"Our numbers are expected to reach over 500 animals in Kings Bay over the next count, which is next Monday," Vicente said.

Related: Endangered manatee faces yet another threat

With the cold temperatures, comes a rush of visitors to the springs to see the marine mammals up close.

Vicente and volunteers keep a watchful eye on the swimmers and boaters in the area to make sure that they do not disturb or harm the manatees.

Vicente says they want to ecotourism to work here, however, tourism will always be second to the well being of the protected marine mammals.

"The educational measures that we have taken have definitely helped improve the situation, but there is always a bad apple," Vicente said.

One of the tools they use for educating the public is a video that explains the rules for swimming near manatees. The video is required for customers of local dive shops, and is also on YouTube.

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