Swimming With Sea Cows
There aren’t many places in the world you can swim and interact with manatees (not legally anyway) and Crystal River, Florida just happens to be one of those lucky places.
For this adventure we actually dragged ourselves out of bed well before sunrise and at first, we weren’t convinced it was worth the effort.
We’re not typically big on group tours but when we’re venturing into something new…like swimming with an endangered species, we like to know the do’s and don’ts, plus if we’re going to swim around in this frigid water we wanna make sure we see plenty of sea cows!
These sea cows are much like the typical RV population, they’re snowbirds and they can’t survive in temps below 60 degrees…which explains why they spend so much time in Florida!
These cute wrinkly giants can live up to 60 years, average about 10 feet long and weigh between 800 and 1,200 pounds.
Best Time to Swim With Manatees
Winter is prime manatee viewing but the season usually runs from Oct.1 – Mar. 31, depending on temperatures. Also the earlier the better, as the sun comes up, the water temperatures warm and the manatees head out of the springs lookin for food.
The Golden Rules
- Minimize splash and noise
- Act with very slow movements
- If/when you do touch a manatee on the back or stomach, never touch with more than one hand at a time. Two hands are illegal. The Endangered Species Act forbids touching a manatee unless it touches you first, and trust me they will let you know when they’re cool with it.
- There is absolutely no chasing, riding or harassing the manatees.
Where You Can See Manatees
They like warm water and gravitate towards the springs but there are lots of places to view Manatees throughout Florida. Here is a map of locations.
I wouldn’t call swimming the the manatees an epic adventure, but I would say it’s a extremely unique experience. When you have people breaking the rules, like the other boat group that was swimming with us (screaming kids, lots of excessive kicking/swimming, too much touching), its difficult to say how much longer they’ll even let people swim with these gentle giants. So if Florida is in your plans make sure you swing by to say hi to these guys, trust us, it’s worth every penny and the loss of a few hours of sleeping in (and we don’t make that statement lightly).
A big thanks to our friends at Drive. Dive. Devour. for doing all the research and inviting us to join in on this little manatee excursion.