Summer is the Best Time of the Year to See Manatees
Manatee Park is a 17 acre county park in Fort Myers that is a warm water refuge for manatee – that gentle, friendly sea-cow that swims in the waters of Florida. They swim in the open waters until winter, when the water temperature gets too cold for them, and then seek refuge in warmer waters. One such refuge is the canal across from the Florida Power and Light plant in Fort Myers. The waters of the canal are warmed by the generating activities of the utility. This makes it attractive to large groups of manatees that can be found in there during the winter months. You can see them from several platforms or you can rent a kayak.
When viewing from a kayak the rule is “look but don’t touch”. These are friendly creatures with no natural predators and few inhibition’s. They will come right up and nuzzle your kayak so the temptation is to reach out and touch them. DON’T!, it’s against the law. The park has viewing platforms to see the manatee and a butterfly garden to enjoy the parks graceful butterflies. The viewing platforms have two features – a polarized glass panel so you can see under the water and an audio stream that lets you hear the manatees communicating and doing other audible things that aren’t discussed in polite society.
The park is located at 10901 Palm Beach Boulevard in East Fort Myers. It’s open all year from 8 AM until sunset. There are no pets allowed. The park entrance is free but there is a parking fee of $5 per day or $2 per hour December thru March or $1 per hour April thru November. You can reach them by phone at 239 690 5030 or online at www.manateeparkfortmyers to check and see if the manatees are waiting for you. Have a great time!!!
Manatees almost went extinct! Thanks to strict regulations and wildlife protection laws, manatees and many other species are growing in number. Florida is one of the best places in the country to come face-to-face with these gentle creatures. But whatever you do, follow the Florida law. The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978, states, “It is unlawful for any person, at any time, intentionally or negligently, to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb any manatee.”
Many people want to know if manatees are friendly. They are referred to as “sea cows” because they move slowly and eat sea foliage much like a cow eating grass. Manatees are not dangerous to people, but are often injured by people not following the rules and regulations that protect manatees. Mothers can get protective of their offspring, but if you keep your distance then there will be no issues when passively observing the animals. It’s tempting to come into contact with manatees because they’re peaceful, but feeding or touching them can cause them to grow fond of people and lead to dangerous circumstances for the manatees like getting to close to motorized boats looking for food and getting hurt by the propellers.
Can You Swim With Manatees?
There are many places where you can swim with manatees in Florida, but every person should keep their distance from manatees. If you’re in the water with manatees, don’t chase them if they swim away from you. Never get in the way of a momma manatee (called a cow) and her baby calf, and never cut off a manatee from it’s family group. Isolating these animals will make them feel threatened and cause a stressful and perhaps dangerous situation! They are social creatures just like dolphins and whales, so they need a group to feel safe and secure.