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Crystal River National Park

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is the best place to observe manatees. Sea cows are warm-blooded marine animals that are extremely sensitive to warm climates and cleanliness of the environment. It is for this reason that the Crystal River or Crystal River in Florida has become a national reserve. Here, in a mild climate and perfectly clear water, thousands of manatees are comfortably located for the winter.

The total area of the reserve is about 18 hectares. Crystal River National Park is located on Kings Bay. The depth of the bay is very small, the bay is fed by water coming from the Crystal River and warm underground sources. The average water temperature is 22-24 degrees. This is great for warm-blooded sea cows.

Photo of manatee in a lake at Crystal River Florida National Park — American ButlerWhy do people like to look at sea cows and manatees?

Thanks to environmental and animal welfare measures, the number of sea cows is increasing annually. Since 2002, when the observation was started, the number of cows has increased from 1,750 individuals to 6,000. This is also not too much, but for the species that was on the verge of destruction, the progress is significant.

The friendly nature, good nature and curiosity of marine giants attract people. Mammals are absolutely safe as much as possible for creatures of their size. The depth of the bay is small, no strong currents, it is more difficult to drown in Crystal River Bay than in a coffee cup.

Swimming with beauties is even more interesting than swimming with dolphins. Dolphins may not be too interested in people in the water; manatee will always be curious. If you lie on the water, mammals, including females with cubs, will certainly come to meet and make friends as much as possible. Another feature of giants is their love of physical contacts. They really like touching and stroking.

Between themselves, they almost continuously exchange tenderness, touching each other. Not without reason, these lumps believe that swimming people also like this treatment. You can pet animals to their complete pleasure. If you are shoved in response by a hefty and very mobile carcass in the water, do not be offended.

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge — photo of the reserve — American Butler

What is forbidden and how to get to Crystal River

Many people come to swim with friendly water giants, relax in warm water, no serious predators in the reserve is not found.

There are special recreational areas for manatees in Crystal River Park, where people are not allowed to enter or swim. We must not forget that Crystal River National Park is not an attraction, but a reserve with rare animals and a conservation area. Any motor boats and yachts are prohibited in the waters of the park so as not to injure the manatees. The bay is patrolled by volunteers and animal welfare specialists from the local Rybnadzor, more precisely from the Fisheries Protection Service.

The water gullies are herbivorous and feed on seaweeds. Toward noon, almost all mammals solemnly sail away for lunch. If you want to splash freely in warm water - a happy time has come for you. But if you plan to communicate with sea cows, it is better to come in the morning.

There are several options to get to swimming with manatees. Not far from Orlando, the very one where Disneyland, on the picturesque shore of the Gulf of Mexico, is the city of Crystal River. Tours with swimming among manatees can be ordered almost anywhere, they sometimes live near hotels in specially equipped ponds. You can get to the reserve from the town on your own, by boat.

Manatees in Crystal River — photo of sea cows in Florida — American ButlerWhat you need to know about Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

  • The tour usually starts at 6 in the morning. So, you have to get up at about 3 in the morning, because the road takes 2 hours. People are especially in a hurry to get in the morning, because in the afternoon the bumps float away for their important business.
  • You can arrange an excursion in advance by phone.
  • Many go on excursions with young children. Everyone is interested, and children can take a nap in the car.
  • A massive accumulation of manatees can be found only in the winter season, by April only a few animals remain in the park.
  • Concerning the sanitary facilities. It is not recommended to pollute the water of the bay. In the boats they put dry closets and simply enclose them with a curtain. We need to be mentally prepared for this.
  • Winter is pretty cool. Grab warm clothes, towels and a blanket.
  • The intentional killing of manatees is punishable by imprisonment. The sentence is about 3 years in federal prison.
  • When traveling by boat, sea cows swim and turn their sides to be scratched.
  • In order not to encounter manatees in season, sometimes you have to drag the boat ashore, so as not to accidentally harm the animals.
Additional Information
Address 3266 N Sailboat Ave, Crystal River, FL 34428
Phone +1-352-228-6028
Ticket price Free admission
Mode of operation

open 7 days a week from dusk to dawn:

  • From 08:00 a.m. – 09:00 p.m.
Web site Visit website

Do not miss the opportunity to swim with sea cows in the park of the Crystal River.

Book an excursion to American Butler!
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