Watch: Hundreds of Manatees Enjoy the Warm Waters of Florida Before Their Yearly Migration

If you’re a fan of manatees, now is the time to be in Florida. As winter slowly winds down, the loveable sea cows will start their migration and spread out from the coves and springs of Florida through the Gulf of Mexico and up the East Coast.

Every year, Manatees make their way to warmer waters of Florida to survive the winter. Places like Blue Spring State Park saw an estimated 700 to 900 manatees packing into the springs on a chillier day. Luckily, a photographer captured a perfect time-lapse of these adorable slow-moving sea mammals.

Manatees are massive creatures weighing somewhere between 800 and 1,200 pounds. The animals unfortunately fall victim to motorboats and other human-made habitat destruction. 

Fortunately, federal protection by the Endangered Species Act has helped the animal rebound somewhat. Researchers say there were only an estimated 1,200 manatees left in Florida in 1991. Since then, the number has surged to more than 6,300.

In many places, it is easy to go kayaking or snorkeling around manatees, but you should follow a few rules to keep everyone safe.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, don’t touch or feed manatees. Breaking this rule could cause the animals to become accustomed to people and put them in danger around boats. Manatee visitors should keep their voices down and avoid noise not to startle the animals. The best way to observe manatees is with snorkeling gear and to float at the water’s surface.

Now that the warmer weather is coming, manatees will begin migrating out of Florida’s warm waters. Manatees will migrate north towards Georgia and South Carolina in the summer. In the Gulf, people can occasionally spot manatees in Alabama and sometimes as far west as Texas.

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