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Manatees Seek Refuge From Cold At Three Sisters Springs

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Cold weather is forcing more than 500 manatees to huddle for warmth at Three Sisters Springs, part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.

It is the first time so many manatees have spent so many days at the only refuge for the endangered Florida manatee.

For more than two weeks the manatees have huddled at the springs 80 miles west of Orlando, prompting administrators to intermittently close the area to swimmers.

Ivan Vicente of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge says the sea cows are squeezed into an area measuring less than an acre.

“We’re talking 500 of them, all body-to-body, next to each other looking like giant boulders in a big boulder field underwater, is what it looks like.”

Manatees cannot survive in cold water, and that is why during the winter they seek out warmer water near springs and power plants.

The area is one of the few places where people can swim with manatees during the winter.


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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment for 90.7 News. She is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a regular contributor for NPR, PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and many other top news organizations. Her in-progress book on the Everglades is under contract with Johns ... Read Full Bio »