Manatee Watching at Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida
During the winter months, a special treat awaits visitors and residents in the waters of the Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, Florida located just about 35 miles north of Spring Hill Florida. It's a pleasant and easy drive so we took the time today to pay Three Sisters a visit.
When the water in the Gulf of Mexico gets cold, the warmer waters of springs throughout Florida attract manatees so it's not unusual to see manatees. However, the Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River do attract more than 25% of the manatee population in the winter months and it's a spectacular sight to see so many manatees congregated in one area.
There is board walk that leads around the springs and visitors can get a good view of these gentle giants as they lazily lay about in the water coming up occasionally to catch a breath of air only to then submerge themselves again.
When we went today, there were easily a hundred animals congregated in several areas of the springs. It was amazing to watch them slowly move along or just huddle together keeping each other company. There were many juveniles and even some babies in the groups.
Adult manatees can get up to 12 feet long and can weigh from 1000 to 3000 pounds. They are strictly vegetarian and eat sea grass and weeds. Manatees are mammals that nurse their young.
Three Sisters Springs is part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and located just West of US 19 in Crystal River, Florida. Parking is available at the Visitor Center on US 19 from which a trolley will take you to the spring area. Admission is $15 per adult with discounted rates for children and seniors and includes parking and the trolley ride.