VIDEO: Where to watch manatees

Manatees at the TECO Big Bend power plant  in Apollo Beach.
Manatees at the TECO Big Bend power plant in Apollo Beach.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The annual migration of Florida manatees is underway as November brings cooler temperatures.

November is Manatee Awareness Month. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to remind people to watch out for manatees swimming in Florida’s rivers, bays and coastal waters.

This time of year, manatees are searching for warmer waters. FWC wants people in boats and personal watercraft to slow down to avoid hitting manatees, especially in shallow areas. Many seasonal manatee protection zones go into effect beginning Nov. 15.

November is also a great time of year to watch manatees. You can enjoy viewing wild Florida manatees at these locations (call ahead for current manatee viewing information):

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge (US Fish and Wildlife Service) – (352) 563-2088

Crystal River, FL (Sanctuaries located in Kings Bay and surrounding waterways) During winter, view manatees near warm water sanctuaries via boat or from boardwalk near Three Sisters Spring (with boardwalk viewing on a limited schedule). Vendors offer in-water tours for a fee. Follow USFWS viewing guidelines in this area. During warm weather manatees disperse from the sanctuaries and spread out along the coast—sighting manatees during this time may involve some travel and luck.

Fanning Springs State Park – (352) 463-3420

Fanning Springs, FL (Spring and spring run on the Suwannee River) Manatees are occasionally present in Fanning Springs. Entrance fee.

Manatee Springs State Park (FPS) – (352) 493-6072

Chiefland, FL (Headwaters and spring run on the Suwannee River) During winter, look for manatees in spring and spring run. Entrance fee.

Spring Bayou near Craig and Coburn Parks – (727) 942-5610

Tarpon Springs, FL (Sheltered waterway near Florida’s Gulf Coast) November through May, manatees visit freshwater spring bayou near small community parks. Parking limited in this historic district.

Tampa Electric Company (TECO) Manatee Viewing Center – (813) 228-4289

Apollo Beach, FL (TECO discharge canal off of Tampa Bay) Visitor center, gift shop, overlook and boardwalk where visitors learn about and see hundreds of manatees in TECO’s warm water discharge canal.

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