CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. (WSVN) — Cold fronts are not always greeted happily by Floridians. Manatees don’t care much for them either, which means cooler temperatures give locals and tourists alike the opportunity to get an up-close look at Florida’s gentle giants.
More than 100 manatees huddled together for warmth at Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, about an hour and a half north of Tampa, Tuesday morning.
Fox 13 reports that air temperatures in the area were in the 30s during early morning hours, but warmed up to 67 degrees. Water temperatures at the springs, however, tend to stay at a near-constant 72 degrees, providing an ideal environment for cold-sensitive manatees, who cannot tolerate water temperatures below 68 degrees for long periods of time.
Three Sisters Springs is a wildlife refuge that allows visitors to watch sea cows in two manatee sanctuary areas. The Citrus County attraction provides a habitat for the animals, who migrate to the area each winter as cooler water temperatures in surrounding waterways lead manatees to move into the springs to keep warm.
The springs occasionally allow visitors to swim with manatees as well through guided tours. However, when the animals huddle in large numbers, water access is closed to prevent them from being disturbed.
For more information, visit the refuge’s website.
Video courtesy: Discover Crystal River Florida Facebook page
Copyright 2017 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.