Early this week, hundreds of manatees gathered in Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River seeking shelter from the cold Gulf waters. Over 300 of these half-a-ton manatees huddled together in the spring’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit water. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge decided to temporarily close the Three Sisters Springs on Wednesday, due to the large influx of manatees searching for warmth. Cold stress can cause weight loss and can even be fatal for manatees, so giving manatees room to rest and warm up in the springs is important.
“It’s almost like a bear hibernating in a cave,” Ivan Vicente, a visitor services specialist with the Fish and Wildlife Service, told CNN on Tuesday.
With the upcoming cold weather forecast, wildlife officials believe that the number of manatees seeking shelter in the Florida springs could challenge records from the state’s cold spell in 2010.