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Meet the Manatees

Three Sisters Springs provide critical habitat for manatee populations. Manatees can be seen in and around Three Sisters Springs year-round; however, they stay in the springs in high numbers from mid-November until the late March. The most manatees recorded in Three Sisters Springs was around 400-500 manatees in January 2016. During the summer months, manatees leave the springs and look for food in the warmer waters of Kings Bay and other areas in the Gulf of Mexico. Three Sisters Springs feeds into Kings Bay, which is the headwaters for Crystal River. The Crystal River is 6 miles long and flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Manatee can be found in any of these areas, so it is important to abide by speed regulations.

   

If you would like to go on a swim with manatee tour, you can do so by contacting one of our many tour operators in town. It is important to learn your "Manatee Manners" before interacting with a wild manatee (Learn About Manatee Manners). You can also swim in Three Sisters Springs by using a launch/boat ramp for your rental or personal paddle craft and paddling over to Three Sisters Springs. It is prohibited to tie your vessel to any vegetation, rock or pole and it is prohibited to access the refuge around Three Sisters Springs if you are visiting by water. More info for Crystal River National Wildlife Complex

   

Manatee can be found in Kings Bay year round:

  • Winter months (November 15 to March 31): Many manatees can be found in springs and manatee sanctuaries throughout the area. Manatee viewing is accessible from the boardwalk at the refuge at Three Sisters Springs, or by visiting the springs by water. During manatee season visitors may only swim into the springs - kayaks and other paddle crafts are prohibited during this time period. This area is the largest winter refuge for manatees on the Florida Gulf Coast and is a National Wildlife Refuge. Manatee sanctuaries (no human activity zones) are in effect during this time, and Three Sisters Springs in-water access can be intermittently closed by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The boardwalk is open from 8:30am - 4:30pm daily which allows passive manatee and other wildlife viewing.
  • Summer months (April 1 to November 14): Manatees can be found in this area every day; however, manatees are active and searching warm waters for food sources. Manatees are easier to find by getting out on the water on a kayak/canoe, SUP, boat, etc. Manatee sanctuaries are no longer in effect during this time, and paddle craft access is allowed in Three Sisters Springs.
Three Sisters Springs

Wildlife Refuge & Tours
123 NW US Highway 19 (Behind City Hall on the right)
City of Crystal River, 34428

Ph: (352) 586-1170 
Contact Us

8:30am - 4:30pm EST

See Calendar for Closures

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