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ALABAMA


GEORGIA


ATLANTIC OCEAN


Tallahassee Panama City Jacksonville


UNITED STATES


Gulf of Mexico Kings Bay


Manatees on the Move


The ocean is too cold for Florida manatees in winter. Many fi nd a home in Kings Bay where the water is warmer.


There’s a welcome sign just outside


Crystal River that will give you information t m


about manatees. Or, you can ask a shop owner in this small Florida town. Some shops off er snorkeling tours. Others rent kayaks. Maybe you want to see them from dry land. If so, head over to the canal west of T ree Sisters Spring. It won’t take long for you to spot a manatee.


es. Or, y u c n a k a s Weighing up to 1,200 kilograms,


a manatee looks much like a chubby dolphin. Or maybe a small whale. Actually, it’s related to neither. Manatees share a common ancestor with elephants. T e Florida manatee population is more than 6,000 strong. Many live in and around Kings Bay, especially in winter. And there’s a good reason for that.


4 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER


Crystal River Springs


CRYSTAL RIVER Orlando Florida manatee range Tampa FLORIDA Okeechobee Lake West Fort Myers Palm Beach Fort Lauderdale Miami


Year-round Warm-weather months


ATLANTIC OCEAN


Gulf of Mexico


Key West


The Perfect Home?


Manatees are surprisingly big animals. Yet they lack the blubber, or fat, layer that allows animals to survive in the cold. In water below 20° Celsius, manatees begin to weaken and die. In summer, the Florida manatee can live


along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. But in winter, the water gets too cold for them. So they travel inland. A near-perfect winter home awaits


manatees at Kings Bay. T ere are dozens of warm springs. Each pumps out fresh water at a constant 22° Celsius. Manatees stay there from November through March.


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