Cold temperatures are moving across the country causing people and animals to seek warm shelter. While most would consider 50 degrees mild, it is cold for manatees in Florida.
Southwest Florida Water Management District shared a video on Facebook showing hundreds of manatees gathered together at Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River. The sea cows, as they are affectionately called, are huddled together on the newly restored shoreline enjoying the warmer water.
Check out the footage below:
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC), manatees will leave an area when the water temperature drops below 68 degrees. They are tropical marine mammals that not only prefer the warmer climate but need it to survive.
FWC shared, “Prolonged exposure to lower water temperatures causes manatees to lose body heat and inadequately digest their food, which can lead to a condition classified as “cold stress” and eventually can be fatal.”
While it is shocking for most people to see so many manatees huddles together, FWC states it often occurs in winter when the mammals move to warm water springs.
These gentle giants are already facing a rapid decline of their food source, seagrass, due to polluted water and algae. Now they are also struggling with loss of warm water habitat. Steps are being taken to preserve the vital habitat in the Manatee Warm-Water Habitat Action Plan.
Sadly, over the past several years the mortality rate has increased. Officials are investigating and asking people to report a sick, injured, dead, or tagged manatee by calling FWC’s Wildlife Alert Toll-Free Number: 1-888-404-3922.
There are several ways to help protect manatees, including observing from afar. “Look, but don’t touch manatees. Keep your distance when boating, even if you are steering a canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Be a good role model for others so that they learn how to watch and enjoy manatees without disturbing the animals,” urges FWC.
How To Help
Join us in feeding and preserving habitat for manatees here. Greater Good Charities is partnering with on-the-ground organizations in Florida to feed starving manatees, while also working to replant seagrass beds in an area known as a “wintering site”.
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