Where Can I See Manatees in Florida?
During the winter months, manatees head for warm waters, such as springs and power plant discharge basins. For the remainder of the year, manatees are widely dispersed in Florida's waterways. The following is a list of some of the places where you can see manatees in Florida.
Where can I see Manatees
To help protect Florida's wildlife, FWC encourages you to watch wildlife from a distance and use binoculars or zoom lenses to extend your view. Florida's manatee population needs the wildlife sanctuaries, springs and warm water sites to survive during the winter months. If you visit any of the wild manatee viewing areas, please give the manatees the space they need and do not disturb them if they are resting.
Walt Disney World's Epcot Center -
--Manatees are found in "The Seas with Nemo and Friends" exhibit. Parking and entrance fees.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (FPS)-
(Manatee Rehabilitation Center)
Homosassa, FL (Headwater, spring run and Homosassa River)
--Park staff or volunteers present daily educational programs. Wild manatees now have access to the headwaters of Homosassa Spring during winter. Enclosed underwater viewing area allows visitors to see manatees near spring basin. Resident manatees year-round. Entrance fee.
ZooTampa at Lowry Park -
(Florida manatee and aquatic center/hospital)
--ZooTampa at Lowry Park has manatee exhibit observation area and on-site hospital used for manatee rehabilitation. Entrance fee.
Miami Seaquarium -
(US Fish and Wildlife Service manatee critical care facility)
--Miami Seaquarium has outside and underwater manatee viewing areas. Facility’s highly trained rescue and rehabilitation teams recognized as national leaders in marine mammal care. Entrance fee.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium -
--Mote Marine Lab exhibits manatees and other aquatic wildlife at its research facility. Research includes manatee biology, health, behavior and conservation efforts. Entrance fee.
SeaWorld of Florida -
(Animal rescue and rehabilitation program)
--SeaWorld has a theme park manatee program and viewing area. Marine Mammal Keeper Experience program offered to individuals. Staff assists with manatee rescue and rehabilitation. Parking, entrance and program fees.
Parker Manatee Aquarium -
(2nd stage rehabilitation facility)
Bradenton, FL (Aquarium located in the South Florida Museum)
--The aquarium provides a temporary home for up to three manatees designated for release back into the wild after being treated in an acute care hospital. The site provides education exhibits, above and below water manatee viewing and presentations about manatees. Former home to Manatee County’s official mascot and the oldest known manatee in the world, Snooty (1948-2017 at 69 years). Entrance fee.
What is the best way to observe a wild Florida manatee?
To help protect Florida’s wildlife, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages you to watch wildlife from a distance and to use binoculars or zoom lenses to extend your view. When you get too close to wild animals, problems may arise. When the animal uses energy to escape human disturbances, it no longer uses this energy to search for food, migrate to warm water sites, or store the energy in fat reserves for use during cold periods. Enjoy viewing wild Florida manatees at these locations (call ahead for current manatee viewing information):
Blue Spring State Park (Florida Park Service) -
Orange City, FL (Spring headwater and spring run on St. Johns River)
--Seasonal manatee programs held during winter months when manatees are in warm waters of spring run. Entrance fee.
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge (US Fish and Wildlife Service) -
Crystal River, FL (Sanctuaries located in Kings Bay and surrounding waterways)
--During winter, view manatees near warm water sanctuaries via boat or from boardwalk near Three Sisters Spring (with boardwalk viewing on a limited schedule). Vendors offer in-water tours for a fee. Follow USFWS viewing guidelines in this area. During warm weather manatees disperse from the sanctuaries and spread out along the coast—sighting manatees during this time may involve some travel and luck.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park (FPS) -
Wakulla Springs, FL (Headwaters and river)
--Look for manatees from the park’s diving platform or various areas of the river via park’s tour boats. Fees for park entry and boat tours.
Fanning Springs State Park (FPS) -
Fanning Springs, FL (Spring and spring run on the Suwannee River)
--Manatees are occasionally present in Fanning Springs. Entrance fee.
Lee County Manatee Park -
Fort Myers, FL (Orange River and FPL Discharge Canal)
--Hundreds of manatees visit Orange River and canal during winter. Parking fee. Gates close at sunset.
Manatee Springs State Park (FPS) -
Chiefland, FL (Headwaters and spring run on the Suwannee River)
--During winter, look for manatees in spring and spring run. Entrance fee.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS) -
Merritt Island, FL (Canal connects Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon)
--View manatees from platform overlooking Haulover Canal. Entrance fee.
Manatee Observation and Education Center -
Fort Pierce, FL (Moore's Creek and Indian River Lagoon)
--Open year-round with many programs. Occasional manatee sightings in winter. Entrance fee.
Spring Bayou near Craig and Coburn Parks -
Tarpon Springs, FL (Sheltered waterway near Florida's Gulf Coast)
--November through May, manatees visit freshwater spring bayou near small community parks. Parking limited in this historic district.
Tampa Electric Company (TECO) Manatee Viewing Center -
Apollo Beach, FL (TECO discharge canal off of Tampa Bay)
--Visitor center, gift shop, overlook and boardwalk where visitors learn about and see hundreds of manatees in TECO’s warm water discharge canal.
Wakulla and the St. Marks Rivers -
Panhandle of Florida
--Manatees may be seen by boat or canoe on these scenic rivers during the summer months. Canoe rentals are available on both rivers via SR 98 between Newport and Crawfordville and in St. Marks, FL. Manatees overwinter at either Wakulla Springs or in the Crystal River/Kings Bay area.
Manatee Lagoon - An FPL Eco-Discovery Center -
Riviera Beach/West Palm Beach, FL
--Opened in February 2016, this new FREE Palm Beach County educational attraction has an observation deck for viewing manatees up close in the warm waters near the Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center. Winter viewing. Education center features hands-on exhibits about manatees and the surrounding Lake Worth Lagoon. Picnic area, gift store, café, webcam, free admission and parking.