2880 N. Seabreeze Point
Crystal River, FL 34429

Crystal River Manatee FAQ

Welcome to the Twin Rivers Marina Manatee FAQs! We recognize that our Crystal River manatees are a very special reason that many visit Crystal River each year and we wanted to help you discover more about these loveable creatures!

Looking to find out about manners while swimming with the manatees, boating with the manatees, paddling with the manatees, or photography with the manatees? Check out the informational videos below from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Meet the Florida Manatee!

Are Florida Manatees native to Florida?

Yes! Florida manatees are one of 2 subspecies of the West Indian Manatee. The other is the Antillean manatee that ranges between Mexico and Brazil.

Where do Florida manatees live?

During the cooler months, Florida manatees make their way to Crystal Springs and other warm water locales to stay warm. Although many Crystal River manatees stay here, the warmer months find the manatees migrating northward along the Eastern seaboard towards Georgia and South Carolina or heading into the Gulf of Mexico into Alabama, Texas, and even down to Cuba!

Why do some people call manatees “sea cows”?

Manatees have gained the nickname “sea cows” because their primary diet is plants and they can eat up to 10x their body weight in sea grasses in a single day!

Is it true that sailors saw manatees and thought they were mermaids?

Many a sailor claimed to see a mermaid that turned out to be a manatee… Christopher Columbus was quoted as saying that they were “not so beautiful as they are said to be, for their faces had some masculine traits.”

How fast can swimming manatees go?

Swimming manatees are usually swimming at about 5 mph. Occasionally, a manatee may get up to 15 mph for a very short time.

Do manatees and alligators coexist peacefully?

Manatees and alligators can often be found in sunny spots on the shoreline enjoying rays together. Manatee attacks are pretty rare as alligators like to eat things they can eat all at once and a manatee is a bit too big and too fast.

Are you allowed to swim with the manatees?

Yes! Crystal River Florida is one of the few places where you can swim with manatees!

Can manatees stay underwater all the time?

No, manatees must come to the surface every 5 minutes or so to get air. While resting a manatee can stay submerged for almos

When is a good time to see manatees in Florida?

A good time to see manatees in Florida is usually from November to April. If you are lucky enough to visit between December and February you can see the largest numbers of manatees. Keep in mind that as temperatures rise, the manatees begin to travel to other locales as well.

What do Florida Manatees eat?

Manatees are herbivores that can spend up to 8 hours a day doing what a “sea cow” does best… grazing on seagrasses!

Do Florida Manatees eat fish?

Occasionally, some manatees can be seen eating clams and other sea life but for the most part, they eat aquatic plants (like seagrasses).

Are Florida Manatees endangered?

The Florida Manatee has been reclassified as a threatened species because of habitat improvements and population growth. The biggest threats to manatees now are boat collisions, getting tangled in fishing gear, habitat degradation, etc.

What time of day are manatees the most active of all?

Manatees are morning creatures and are the most active between 6:00 AM and 8:30 AM.

Why are Crystal River manatees so friendly?

Manatees have no real predators so they have no reason not to be.

Am I allowed to touch a manatee?

Manatees are protected and as such, if you are caught touching manatees it is actually a federal offense. BUT! In Crystal River things are a little different: under supervision, you can get out and interact and swim with the manatees! It is also important to note that any contact MUST be initiated by the manatee. Of course, it is always best to simply swim and admire manatees from a distance for their own safety.

When are manatees most active?

You can find the manatees between November through March, and specifically, early mornings, are usually the best times to see manatees at their most playful.

How long is a Florida manatee pregnant?

Manatees are pregnant for about 11 months.

Twin Rivers Marina has several rental boats available for full or half day rental that will allow you to get up-close and personal to swim with the manatees. Rent a boat now!

Informational Videos About Manatee Interactions

For Swimmers

For Boaters

For Paddlers

For Photographers

image of a manatee sticking it's head out of the water