Florida Springs Impose Stricter Rules As Manatee Numbers Rise

More than 700 manatees swim in the warm water springs throughout Crystal River, a record-breaking population in Citrus County. With about 5,000 manatees living in the wild, Crystal River is taking steps to protect endangered species from an increase in visitors.

A River Ventures Manatee Tour Center bus loads guests for swim-with-manatees session in Crystal River.

A River Ventures Manatee Tour Center searches for manatees in Crystal River so that guests may interact and swim with the “sea cow”.

John Welch and his wife Izzy Welch sit in a River Ventures boat hoping to spot a manatee.

Ralph Zambito and his 8-year-old daughter Leah Zambito sits in a River Venture boat hoping to spot a manatee.

River Venture guests put snorkels and grab tubes in preparation to swim with manatees in Crystal River.

River Venture guests swim in a “dead man’s float,” a calm position that won’t scare away manatees. Crystal River homeowners watch as guests swim outside their backyard.

Manatee tour boats wade in the water while their guests swim with manatees.

A manatee swims past a River Venture boat, producing circles of water called “manatee footprints.”

River Venture in-water tour guide and Captain Sean Daugthery drives guests back to shore from their swim-with-manatee tour session.

Sean Daugherty holds up a picture of himself and one of his favorite manatees “Snuffy.”

River Venture in-water tour guide and Captain Sean Daugthery drives guests back to shore from their swim-with-manatee tour session.

Ralph Lambito and his 8-year-old daughter look out at Crystal River after their River Ventures swim-with-manatees tour.

A River Ventures boat passes an idle speed sign.

(Source: http://www.wuft.org)

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